As Congress continues to battle over the future of health care in America and, by extension, the fate of millions of Californians who currently receive coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we found ourselves asking a simple question: Where do California's lawmakers get their health insurance?
Before the ACA fully went into effect in 2014, members of Congress received their coverage through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, or FEHB. But the ACA required lawmakers and their staff to leave FEHB and get coverage through the local insurance marketplaces, called "exchanges," set up by the new law. Many started receiving this new coverage on Jan. 1, 2014.
Now, if a representative or senator wants to get health care as part of their work in Washington, D.C., they are eligible to purchase a private plan through DC Health Link, the local exchange for residents of Washington, D.C.
Lawmakers aren't required to get their coverage through the DC exchange; they can choose to be insured through a spouse's job, Medicare, or purchase a private individual health policy outside of the exchange. But if lawmakers do purchase a "gold plan" on DC Health Link, the federal government will pay about three-quarters of the cost -- a tempting incentive that's not available elsewhere.