Is Congress exempt from Obamacare?


Quick Answer

Members of Congress are not exempt from being required to purchase personal health insurance under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, sometimes known colloquially as "Obamacare." However, members of Congress receive a special subsidy that makes their terms more favorable than those of most federal employees and private citizens who make a comparable income.

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Full Answer

Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the health care of members of Congress was entirely paid for by their employer, the federal government. The Affordable Care Act requires members of Congress to purchase their own health insurance through state exchanges, but the Office of Personnel Management issued a rule change in October 2013 that set the federal government's employer contribution for Congress members at an amount equivalent to the rate they were previously paying. This contribution is significantly more than other federal employees receive. It also extends to some members of Congressional staffs. In order to receive the subsidy, Congress members must purchase their health insurance through the DC Health Link Small Business Market.

The Congressional health-care subsidy has faced criticism, as these subsidies are usually reserved for those whose income is below the poverty line. In July 2014, a federal judge threw out a legal challenge by Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin to remove this subsidy.

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