Congress Has Super Amazing Over-The-Top Cadillac Health Insurance

Today, Ezra Klein completely mischaracterized the health insurance benefits provided to members of Congress. Congress receives probably one of the best and most expensive packages of employer provide insurance benefits in the country.
That tax, insofar as it is paid at all, will be paid by workers with employer-provided health-care plans that cost about $8,000 more than the national average. These are plans, in fact, that cost more than what the average member of Congress purchases.

This is just not true. While Members of Congress technically sign up for a Federal Employee Health Benefits plan the same as the rest of the 8 million employees of the federal government, that is only a part of their government-provided health insurance. It is ignoring a hugely expensive health care perk for members of Congress, called the Office of Attending Physician. For a small flat fee of a few hundred dollars a year, every Congress member gets access to nearly unlimited on-site care, and does not need to submit claims to their insurance company. There is no co-pay, free lab tests, free x-rays, no wait, and top specialists will be brought to them almost anytime. We spent roughly $2.8 million on the OAP in 2008, most (although not all) was spent on care for members. It would be fair to say that this incredible, 24-hour on-call doctor's service is worth at least an additional $4,000 a year per member of Congress. (Probably much more--try asking your HR person how much it would cost to set something like that up at your office for people who are not Senators.) You can try to argue the policy merits of the excise tax on “Cadillac plans,” but it is completely disingenuous to ignore the fact that Congress has among the best and most expensive employer-provided health care benefits around.

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