For example, the passage of Medicare in 1965 was one of the first major steps taken towards socialized medicine in America. Medicare socializes health care in old age, forcing everyone in society to foot the medical bills of seniors and forcing seniors to get most of their medical care through the government. Medicare’s proponents knew that most Americans — young or old — would not support the program if they knew what it was: a massive entitlement program at odds with the American spirit of individualism and self-reliance. So to pass it, Medicare’s proponents, borrowing a page out of the Social Security playbook, told a different story. They dressed up Medicare as insurance and argued that Medicare benefits, far from being handouts, are actually earned. In The Politics of Medicare, Medicare historian Theodore R. Marmor explains some of the tactics used to sell the program:
“The contributory requirement of social security [Medicare] — the limitations of benefits to those having paid social security taxes — gives the system a resemblance to private insurance. Thus social security members would appear to have paid for hospital insurance. In fact, social security beneficiaries are entitled to pensions exceeding those which, in a strict actuarial sense, they have “earned” through contributions. But this is a point generally lost in the avalanche of words about how contributions, as a commissioner of Social Security, Robert Ball, once remarked, “give American workers the feeling they have earned their benefits.” The notion that contributions confer rights analogous to those which premiums entail within private insurance was one that deeply permeated the advocacy of Medicare.”
Since the passage of Medicare (and Medicaid, which was passed at the same time), American health care has incrementally been further socialized, through new and expanded entitlement programs and increasing regulatory control. Each time, proponents called greater government control of health care anything but socialized medicine. Obamacare is just their latest play.