by Dave Jolly
Now I know why Rep. Nancy Pelosi keeps claiming that Obamacare is working at lowering insurance costs. On Wednesday, the Office of Personnel Management announced that the government will pay every member of Congress and thousands of staff members a subsidy to be used towards their purchase of health insurance through the exchanges established by Obamacare.
Currently, they are covered through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. However, an amendment that was added to the Affordable Care Act would change that and it’s not setting well with liberal members of Congress.
When the Democrats were trying to push Obamacare through Congress in 2009, some Republicans balked and said that if the program was good enough for Americans then it should be good enough for Congress and their staff. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) attached an amendment to the Affordable Care Act that would make the program apply to Congress as well. Democrats were so eager to get the massive bill passed that they accepted Grassley’s amendment.
Now that the insurance mandate is looming before us, a number of politicians and their staff are claiming it’s unfair that they have to abide by the same mandate facing all of America. Some even claimed that the loss of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program would leave thousands of congressional staff without insurance, causing many of them to leave their positions in search of other employment. Congress feared a brain drain would result with the loss of so many staff members.
Therefore, the Office of Personnel Management, a division of the federal government ruled that all 535 members of Congress and their staff would receive a federal subsidy to help them purchase health coverage under the Obamacare exchange program. The rest of America doesn’t get any subsidy or help with their purchase of health coverage, rather we face a tax penalty if we’re not covered. Not only are we forced to pay for our own coverage, but we will also be paying for those subsidies that Congress and their staff will receive.
In many states, the cost of health coverage is skyrocketing because of the new mandates that will go into effect come January 1, 2014. Among those mandates is the coverage of pre-existing conditions. The insurance companies will have to make this coverage available, but in order to do so they will increase the premiums rates for everyone to pay for it.
The plans to be offered by companies through the exchange program come in four tiers ranging from bronze to platinum. A comparison was made in some states of what a policy would cost today and what the similar tiered policy would cost under the Obamacare exchange program. In Florida, the cost of a silver tiered policy would increase anywhere from 7.6% to as much as 58.8%, with the average being 35%. In other words, if you were paying $300 a month for health coverage in Florida, that rate could go up to $405 a month on average. Families paying $500 a month would see their rates increase to around $675 a month.
It gets worse if you live in Ohio or Indiana. The same comparison in those states resulted in an average increase of 41% for Ohio residents and 72% for Indiana residents. That same $500 per month family policy would increase to $705 per month in Ohio and to a staggering $860 per month in Indiana.
How many families can afford this, especially in today’s economy. Now take into consideration that thousands, perhaps millions of Americans are losing their employer provided health coverage by having their hours reduced to part time; from 40 hours to less than 30 hours per week.
So Americans are going to have their income cut by over 25% by being dropped to part time, and then forced to purchase their own health insurance which will increase between 35% to 72% or be forced to pay a tax penalty for not being insured. And let’s not forget on top of all of that, we also get to pay for the subsidy that Congress and their staff will get to help them purchase their coverage. And the bitter icing on the cake is that they make an average of $25,000 – $40,000 more a year than the average American household makes.
No wonder congressional approval has dipped into single digits lately.