HOUSTON, April 3, 2015 − So far, announced Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s statement that his family will sign up for Obamacare has been treated in the media with ridicule, causing the conservative candidate a certain measure of embarrassment. He recently spilled the beans on his health insurance status when he told CNN’s Dana Bash, “We’ll be getting new health insurance and we’ll presumably do it through my job with the Senate, and so we’ll be on the federal exchange with millions of others.”
He went on to frame the situation almost as if it were a badge of honor. Nevertheless, he is still critical of the president’s approach to nationalizing healthcare coverage, stating, “I strongly oppose the exemption that President Obama illegally put in place for members of Congress because (Senate Minority Leader) Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats didn’t want to be under the same rules as the American people… I believe we should follow the text of the law.”
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The media loved his announcement, hyping it and ridiculing it on radio news breaks, news site headlines and even on late-night comedy shows. When it comes to politics, hypocrisy is business as usual, or so say the media.
Even his detractors acknowledge that Ted Cruz is one of the smartest people in government. Clearly, he was perceptive enough to see the incongruous appearance of this action, explaining he is being a law-abiding citizen and is not above the law (as federally elected officials appear to be). Through his actions, Cruz presents himself as confronting only two available choices in choosing a healthcare plan: Obamacare or the privileged care of elected politicians. However, there were and are certainly at least two other options.
Cruz’s decision to go with Obamacare was predicated on the fact that his wife lost her own health coverage due to taking a leave from her company in order to be involved in her husband’s presidential campaign. As a managing director at Goldman Sachs, she could have easily moved her family to COBRA as millions of others of Americans have done under similar circumstances after losing their own company coverage.
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Although expensive, COBRA would have provided 18 months of coverage to the Cruz family, a period ending, conveniently, right around election day 2016, assuming the senator was still involved in the presidential campaign.
After checking out the available COBRA option, the senator might have also looked at another option − and such options do exist. There are several exemptions to Obamacare, and the Cruz family would appear to qualify for at least, one of them.
An option that would seem most logical to a ferocious opponent of Obamacare would involve joining one of the several generally religious organizations consisting of individuals who voluntarily support each other through their contributions to those organizations. Most of these groups and the life and health insurance policies they offer have been around for decades and have an excellent track record for providing high-quality coverage at a reasonable cost.
The way the religiously based plans work is very simple. To join most of these groups, one must be a practicing Christian and agree to certain lifestyle requirements. Members pay a flat fee for these associations’ insurance each month for plans that offer familiar coverage as well as standard deductibles.
Because this type of health insurance entails significantly less bureaucracy and requires healthy lifestyle behaviors from its members, the rates typically are significantly less than what is charged by most private insurance companies. Organizations offering this type of coverage include Liberty HealthShare, Medi-Share and Samaritan Ministries.
A practicing Christian like Cruz should love programs like these. He is an avowed Baptist, emphasizing that point by launching his campaign recently at Virginia’s Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the United States.
Joining a program like this would likely inspire a number of his key constituencies to declare their own independence from the Obamacare he and they despise. But instead, Cruz seems to be taking a politically “noble” stance by opting out of his politically protected status as an elected official exempt from Obamacare by statute. The idea, apparently, is for both him and his family to assume victim status when it comes to the matter of socialized medicine. But it might be more effective still for him to join an alternative to Obamacare, an action that would seem to make far more sense as an alternative and as a protest.
Signing up for Obamacare, on the other hand, leads to endless questions and ridicule from the media as well as from his opponents. So to this political observer, who has interviewed Cruz many times, his decision to sign up for Obamacare seems at the very least odd and even at best a significant opportunity lost.