The roughly 48 million uninsured Americans have a new member in their ranks: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).
"Other people are going to see what I did when I looked into health insurance for my wife and me: that the deductible rate, it doubled, about $3,000 to $6,000, and our policy was going to go from about $300 to about $1,500 a month," he said in a recent radio interview, according to the Dallas Morning News. "I actually don't have insurance right now, so thank you very much, Obamacare."
Unlike the vast majority of uninsured people, Gohmert is nowhere near the poverty line, earning $174,000 as a member of the House. And according to the Morning News, the Texas representative and his wife would pay a monthly premium of $600 under the exchanges, with the standard employer subsidy for members of Congress and their staffers. That works out to just over 4 percent of his annual income.
But Gohmert, 60, has refused to take such a subsidy. "On January 1st, when millions of Americans will likely lose their employers' contribution to their health insurance, I will refuse to receive that same subsidy. It also means I will have to pay a substantial penalty or 'tax,' but I cannot in good conscience accept the subsidy when so many Americans have lost their insurance altogether because of ObamaCare," he said in a September release. "We are supposed to be the servants of the American people, not the masters." Gohmert will be subject to a penalty of 1 percent of his household income in 2014, rising to 2 percent in 2015 and 2.5 percent in 2016, if he does not obtain health insurance.
Gohmert also has access to good, low-cost routine care, whereas many uninsured Americans rely on emergency rooms as a first option for health care. He has access to the Office of the Attending Physician, which provides routine exams, consultations and some diagnostic tests for $576 per year. In addition, he has access to outpatient care at no charge at military hospitals in the National Capital Region. An emergency room visit costs an average of $1,233, according to a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health, with many visits costing much more.
A Gohmert spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the congressman used such services.
Some Republican lawmakers have decided to sign up on the health care exchanges despite their strong opposition to Obamacare, while others have relied on insurance obtained by their spouses. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) signed up on the exchange 45 minutes after he blogged about a "frustrating" experience. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) signed up after "three days on and off" and "browser glitches." Tea party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) relies on his wife's gold-plated health care plan from Goldman Sachs.
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