It’s just stupid and self-destructive.
Lots of conservative lawmakers hate Obamacare. Rep. Louie Gohmert is putting his money where his mouth is.
The Tyler Republican gave up his health insurance for 2014, asserting that the president’s signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act, has made coverage too expensive.
“Other people are going to see what I did when I looked into health insurance for my wife and me: that the deductible rate, it doubled, about $3,000 to $6,000, and our policy was going to go from about $300 to about $1,500 a month,” he said during a recent radio interview with Trey Graham, a pastor at First Melissa Baptist Church in Collin County. “I actually don’t have insurance right now, so thank you very much, Obamacare.”
Gohmert’s salary as a member of Congress is $174,000 a year. And his calculations ignore the hefty employer subsidy for which he is eligible — almost $950 per month. He says he will pay the tax that takes effect this year for those without insurance — 1 percent of his annual income.
Health care experts say Gohmert is taking a big risk. He’s 60. His wife, Kathy Gohmert, is 59. At that stage of life, medical expenses are common and unpredictable.
“By not obtaining insurance, you are just rolling the dice, gambling that you are not going to get sick or going to get hit by a car,” said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute. “Most financial advisers and most independent experts would say it’s a wise move to obtain insurance and basically a no-brainer if you have an employer who is willing to kick in about 70 percent of the cost of your premium.”
That’s the case for Gohmert.
But for months, he’s said he would rather give up his government-supplied insurance than accept any government subsidy. If he did take the subsidy available to federal lawmakers and their aides, he would probably pay a monthly premium of about $600 — far less than the figure he cited on Graham’s show, which aired Sunday.
In a brief interview at the Capitol, Gohmert said that he’s a victim of Obamacare.
“I lost my health care. I liked it OK, but I didn’t get to keep it,” he said, referring to his previous insurance plan. “I couldn’t afford to go up four or five times what I was paying and double my deductible, and so I’m better off with just setting money aside for health care and paying the penalty.
Members of Congress and their aides represent an unusual category of insurance customers. Before the Affordable Care Act, they were eligible for the same insurance options offered to civilian employees across the federal government.
Under the new law, they get insurance through the Washington, D.C., insurance exchange, which created an unintended problem. Workers at big companies get employee-subsidized insurance through their jobs. Exchanges were meant for people who lacked insurance and didn’t get such subsidies.
To make sure that members of Congress and their aides weren’t penalized, the Obama administration announced that subsidies would carry over for them to the local exchange.
To be clear, the reason why members of Congress and their staffers are required to buy insurance through the exchange is because of a political stunt pulled by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R, Iowa) during the debate over the Affordable Care Act when it was still a bill. Had it not been for Grassley’s failed effort to embarrass Democrats during the debate, Gohmert would still have the same insurance he’d had since he was first elected. Go blame Chuck Grassley if you don’t like your choices, Louie. Or, you know, blame yourself.
Honestly, I don’t even know what principle Gohmert thinks he’s defending here. The right to be sick? The right to be bankrupted by medical misfortune? The right to be stuck in a crappy job because you have a pre-existing condition and need the insurance it provides? I don’t wish for bad things to happen to people, but if the Gohmerts were to suffer adverse consequences as a result of this foolish decision, it would at least serve as a shining example for why people need to have insurance, and why the Affordable Care Act was so vitally necessary for so many Americans. So thanks for that, Louie. Only you could have done this. Hair Balls has more.