Thanks to provisions in the Affordable Care Act that Republicans demanded, members of Congress will have to sign up for health care coverage through exchange marketplaces. That’s not really the point of the exchanges – they’re largely intended for the uninsured and small businesses looking to cover their employees – but GOP lawmakers had a political point to make, and this is the result.
With that in mind, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) wrote a blog post yesterday, highlighting his own personal experience when he “sat down to try and enroll in the DC exchange.”
Like many Americans, my experience was pretty frustrating. After putting in my personal information, I received an error message. I was able to work past that, but when I went to actually sign up for coverage, I got this “internal server error” screen. […]Despite multiple attempts, I was unable to get past that point and sign up for a health plan. We’ve got a call into the help desk. Guess I’ll just have to keep trying…
As it turns out, his willingness to “keep trying” was a good idea. Boehner, who is not yet eligible for Medicare, “called the DC Health Link help line,” and a “few hours later,” the process was complete. He’d signed up for health insurance.
Oddly enough, the Republican House Speaker didn’t offer any details about his new health care plan. One would assume that if he’d experienced “sticker shock,” or had been stuck choosing a plan he hates, Boehner would have mentioned it. Indeed, he would have been eager to mention it, since it would advance his larger political goals.
So why was Boehner silent on this point? Probably because someone in Boehener’s shoes would be able to save some money on an affordable plan through an exchange.
This was supposed to be a little p.r. stunt, intended to reinforce the Republican message. It’s almost certainly why the Speaker invited a photographer to document him going through the process. And while it’s a shame Boehner was one of many who ran into website trouble, I have to say his experience doesn’t sound that bad – a guy like him can call a help line, signed up for insurance, and likely save some money, all over the course of an afternoon.
Are Americans supposed to hear this and think, “Quick, repeal this monstrosity before it crushes another person’s dreams”?
Update: I edited the above text slightly to reflect a relevant point: given the scope of the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan the Speaker was part of, it’d be tough for him to find huge savings on insurance costs anywhere. Still, the larger, real-world point for American consumers stands – folks like Boehner are able to find some affordable deals on quality coverage through the exchange marketplaces. It’s a detail the Speaker very likely noticed, but neglected to mention.