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New health reform law: Members of Congress have to get same plans as public

The health reform law makes many changes to make care more accessible and affordable and is no doubt a work in progress. But one very clear provision should give anyone some reassurance – Members of Congress and their staffs will be required to get their health insurance from the same health insurance exchanges as millions of Americans. In fact, the previous link refers to a flap a few months ago where there was some thought Members of Congress would actually lose their health insurance until the health exchanges are set up in 2014!

In 2014, people who don’t get their health insurance through their employer – many people working in small businesses or self-employed – will be able to buy coverage in state health insurance exchanges where they can easily compare private health plans and prices. For people with family incomes under about $88,000 a year, subsidies for health plans in the exchange will reduce coverage costs 50-60% or more. Those subsidies will obviously not apply to Members of Congress, but our representatives are required to purchase their coverage on the same health insurance exchanges as everyone else.

It’s a small provision, but a good one. For some reason I’ll bet that those health insurance exchanges work pretty well and if Congress has to make any changes to make them work better, that legislation will be enacted quickly.

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