If you’ve ever wondered, “What is an entitlement program?” the good news is that you’re not alone. More people are looking for answers to this common question. However, the term can be very confusing, particularly since it refers to a technical category of federal spending. Some people mistake the term “entitlement” for a negative connotation that applies to social insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security. The truth is that both Medicare and Social Security are considered entitlements. Others are tied to dedicated revenue sources, which does not affect their status as entitlement programs.
Entitlement programs authorize spending based on eligibility criteria. They originated in the Great Society of the 1960s and were intended to help poor families with dependent children. They were then expanded to cover some disabled persons and those with kidney disease. These programs aim to control the cost of inpatient care in skilled nursing facilities and hospitals, as well as hospice care and home health care. As such, they are often called “means-tested” programs.