Thursday, November 21, 2013

Here’s the Health Insurance Program for All those Members of Congress, Including the Ones Desperately Trying to Deny Coverage to Low Income Families and People Without Insurance

Members of Congress – Just Like Everyone Else – Not

The ultra conservative Congresswoman from Minnesota, Michele Bachmann recently made the new by saying she lost her health insurance and was having great difficulty getting replacement and wasn’t even going to try.  Turns out Ms. Bachmann is an idiot (ok, not news but worth repeating).  See if you are in Congress there’s lots of choices, lots of help and lots of subsidy.

On the website run by the Obama administration for 36 states, it is notoriously difficult to see the prices, deductibles and other details of health plans offered by different insurers.

It is much easier for members of Congress and their aides to see and compare their options on websites run by the Senate, the House and the local exchange.

Lawmakers can select from 112 options offered in the “gold tier” of the District of Columbia exchange, far more than are available to most of their constituents.

Aetna is offering eight plan options to members of Congress, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield is offering 16. Eight are available from Kaiser Permanente, and 80 are on sale from the UnitedHealth Group.

And what about help, getting help.  Not to worry, your local Representative or Senator has plenty of that.

While millions of Americans have been left to fend for themselves and go through the frustrating experience of trying to navigate the federal exchange, members of Congress and their aides have all sorts of assistance to help them sort through their options and enroll.

Lawmakers and the employees who work in their “official offices” will receive coverage next year through the small-business marketplace of the local insurance exchange, known as D.C. Health Link, which has staff members close at hand for guidance.

“D.C. Health Link set up shop right here in Congress,” said Eleanor Holmes Norton, the delegate to the House from the nation’s capital.

Insurers routinely offer “member services” to enrollees. But on Capitol Hill, the phrase has special meaning, indicating concierge-type services for members of Congress.

If lawmakers have questions about Aetna plan benefits and provider networks, they can call a special phone number that provides “member services for members of Congress and staff.”

And what about getting some government money to help pay the cost?  Plenty of that.

Lawmakers and their aides are not eligible for tax credit subsidies, but the government pays up to 75 percent of their premiums, contributing a maximum of $5,114 a year for individual coverage and $11,378 for family coverage. The government contribution is based on the same formula used for most other federal employees.

Why don’t conservatives who say they favor a private market solution to health insurance just go out and purchase individual coverage?  And why don’t conservatives who say the government shouldn’t be in the health insurance business go out and purchase individual coverage?  And why don’t conservatives who say those who receive government benefits are takers, part of the 47% that just expects the government to provide for them,  go out and purchase health insurance in the private sector?  Oh, they are crazy, not stupid.

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