Ted Cruz's Odd Obamacare Decision

03/27/2015 12:39 pm ET | Updated May 27, 2015

So far presidential candidate Ted Cruz's announcement that his family will sign up for Obamacare has been treated with humor and, on a small degree, embarrassment. He recently told CNN's Dana Bash that "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 on the federal exchange." He went on to frame this situation as something of a badge of honor, while being critical of the President's approach, saying "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."

The media has loved this announcement and was found on radio news breaks, news site headlines, and even on late-night comedy. When it comes to politics, hypocrisy is business as usual. Ted Cruz, who is certainly one of the smartest people in government (even his detractors acknowledge this), was perceptive enough to see the incongruence of this action by stating he is being a law-abiding citizen and is not above the law (like federally elected officials appear to be). Senator Cruz acts as though he had only two choices -- Obamacare, or the privileged care of elected politicians. There were certainly, at least, two other options.

Cruz's decision to go on Obamacare was prompted by his wife losing her coverage due to taking a leave from her company to be involved in the presidential campaign. She was a managing director at Goldman Sachs and she could have easily gotten her family on COBRA, like millions of others of Americans have done. That would have provided 18 months of coverage (ending right around election day in 2016 if his campaign made it that far). After that, he could look at another option and they do exist. In fact, there are several exemptions to Obamacare and the Cruz family qualifies for, at least, one of them. That option would be the one that would seem most logical to a ferocious opponent of Obamacare, which is joining one of the several organizations (most of which are religious) made up of individuals that voluntarily support each other through their contributions. Most of these groups have been around now for decades and have an excellent track record.

The way they work is very simple, and even "Biblical." To join most of these groups, one must be a practicing Christian and you have to agree to certain lifestyle requirements. You pay a flat rate each month and you even have the equivalent of deductibles. Because it entails significantly less bureaucracy and requires healthy lifestyle behaviors, the rates are typically significantly less than most insurance companies. There are several organizations like this, including Liberty HealthShare, Medi-Share, and Samaritan Ministries.

Someone like Cruz should love programs like these. He is an avowed Baptist that launched his campaign at Liberty University (the largest Christian university in the United States). He has a healthy, young family, that certainly should comply with the lifestyle requirements of these programs. Joining a program like this would inspire many of his key constituencies to declare their own independence from the Obamacare he despises, but instead he seems to be taking a "noble" (because he is abandoning political privilege) but victim-type role. For him to join an alternative to Obamacare makes so much sense. Signing up for Obamacare, on the other hand, leads to so many questions. It is doubtful that any of his family suffers from pre-existing conditions, and even more doubtful they do not meet the lifestyle requirements. So for this political observer who has interviewed Cruz many times, this decision seems at least odd and an opportunity lost.

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