Ask Laz: Healthcare: Where do members of Congress get their coverage?


Mike saw my recent Ask Laz on whether members of Congress have to pay into Social Security (answer: yes, if elected after 1984).

This prompted him to ask: “What kind of health benefits do members of Congress receive?”

Fair question.

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The answer is that, thanks to Obamacare, which Republican lawmakers have dedicated themselves to repealing, all members of Congress and their staffers have to purchase coverage through an online exchange, just like everyone else who doesn’t receive insurance from an employer.


Nearly 13,000 members of Congress and staffers are currently enrolled in gold-level Small Business Health Option Program plans on the Washington, D.C., exchange.

However, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have introduced bills challenging the federal subsidies received for their coverage.

For example, a proposed “Members Play By the Same Rules Act of 2014” would have ended government subsidies for members of the House and Senate who served on or after March 23, 2010, the day Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law.

The idea was that most members of Congress are a good deal wealthier than ordinary Americans and thus shouldn’t qualify for government assistance, which was made available when Congress members were shifted from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

However, since all three of the bill’s original Democratic sponsors were defeated in the last election, it seems unlikely the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will be acting on it anytime soon.

Perhaps Republican lawmakers think everyone can do what Texas Sen. Ted Cruz does. He gets his health insurance from his wife’s employer, Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs.


That means that if Cruz is successful in overturning Obamacare, he’ll still be covered even as 11 million others lose their insurance.

That, apparently, is their problem, not his.

If you have a consumer question, email me at or contact me via Twitter @Davidlaz.