Perks Ease Way in Health Plans for Lawmakers
Jacqueline A. Thomas, a congressional aide, said she was able to reduce her monthly premium by half on an insurance exchange.
T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times
By ROBERT PEAR
November 19, 2013
WASHINGTON — Members of Congress like to boast that they will have the same health care enrollment experience as constituents struggling with the balky federal website, because the law they wrote forced lawmakers to get coverage from the new insurance exchanges.
That is true. As long as their constituents have access to “in-person support sessions” like the ones being conducted at the Capitol and congressional office buildings by the local exchange and four major insurers. Or can log on to a special Blue Cross and Blue Shield website for members of Congress and use a special toll-free telephone number — a “dedicated congressional health insurance plan assistance line.”
And then there is the fact that lawmakers have a larger menu of “gold plan” insurance choices than most of their constituents have back home.
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.