The next time Speaker Paul Ryan starts talking about “freedom and personal responsibility” instead of the ACA, or any other politician rails about “government-run, taxpayer-subsidized health insurance,” remember this:
The federal government subsidizes between 72% and 75% of a congress member’s health insurance plan, which is purchased through the ACA marketplace known as DC SHOP. They are limited to the Gold tier, which currently offers 57 plans.
Unlike state ACA exchanges, which vary premiums based on age, geography, or tobacco use, the DC SHOP varies only by age.
Current members also receive (allegedly) limited services from the Office of the Attending Physician in the U.S. Capitol for an annual fee. Services include routine exams, consultations, and certain diagnostic tests. The office does not provide vision or dental care, and prescriptions can be written but not dispensed.
According to the OAP internal website, the office provides staff with emergency treatment, first aid, immunizations, flu vaccinations and physician referrals. But members of Congress can enroll in “additional services” by paying an annual fee of about $600.
A 2001 Congressional Research Service report on the OAP noted that members of Congress who enroll in those additional services or “routine care” are also provided “laboratory, X-ray, physical therapy, and electrocardiographic services, as well as 24-hour assistance and referral.” (No referrals. No trip to a far-off facility because they take your insurance. My current insurance requires a $30 co-pay for each physical therapy visit — or $90 a week.)
The service is supposed to serve as urgent care, not primary care. But it seems like it doesn’t work that way.
They operate 10 clinics the size of small community hospitals, including in the Capitol, House, and Senate buildings. Isn’t that handy?
They described a culture centered on meeting the needs and whims of members of Congress, with almost no concern for cost.
Members of Congress do not pay for the individual services they receive at the OAP, nor do they submit claims through their federal employee health insurance policies. Instead, members pay a flat, annual fee of $503 for all the care they receive. The rest of the cost of their care, sources said, is subsidized by taxpayers.
Last year, Congress appropriated more than $3 million to reimburse the Navy for staff salaries at the office. Next year’s budget allocates $3.8 million for the office, including more than half a million dollars to upgrade the Office’s radiology suite. Sources said additional money to operate the office is included in the Navy’s annual budget.
In 2008, 240 members paid the annual fee, though some sources say congressmen who didn’t pay the fee were rarely prevented from using OAP services.
Oopsies! The same people who block school lunches for kids who haven’t paid still get concierge health care they haven’t paid even this minimal amount for!
Oh, and no appointments. Walk-in service, because they’re so important and busy.