Under the Affordable Care Act, Americans are wondering what role Congress and the President have in the health care reform.
There seems to be a misconception that political figures are awarded universal coverage. The benefits available to the President and to the members of Congress are clearly outlined for anyone who would like to investigate them.
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Health care for the President while in Office
While in office, the President has access to treatment in military hospitals and doctors as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The members of the First Family also have full access to the President’s health benefits.
Health Insurance for the President after his Term
The President is afforded a set pension amount for his services, regardless of whether he served one or two terms. Currently, the President receives $199,700 per year, or a little less than 50 percent of an active President’s salary.
The President receives this amount for life. The President is free at this point to choose privatized health care through the same carriers available to federal employees.
The President may also choose to purchase private health insurance from another company at his own expense. President and his family can also continue to receive is the option to continue to receive treatment at military hospitals.
Health Insurance for Members of Congress
Congressional members are not given free military health care unless they are veterans in their own right. Their families also are not eligible for benefits.
Congressional members do receive a pension which they can use toward the purchase of federal employee health care coverage options.
However, representatives and senators do not receive this pension for life immediately after serving two years in the House or six in the Senate.
Just as with most private pension funds, the Congressional pension fund requires members to attain an age of 50 before drawing a pension if they have 20 years of service. Otherwise, they must wait until age 62 to draw.
With 25 years of service, they can draw immediately upon retiring. The amount of the pension, unlike the President’s, is based on years of service, and is not a set amount.
By law, Congressional members cannot draw more than 80 percent of the average of their three greatest years of salary in the form of a pension.
Congress is free to purchase health care insurance with some of these pension funds, but the terms are the same as with any other private insurance company.
Until 1984, Congress did not pay into Social Security but instead had their retirement withholdings deposited into a federal employee retirement fund.
However, any Congressional representative or senator elected since 1983 has paid into Social Security, and therefore is eligible for Medicare benefits.
Can you believe what you read?
The myths surrounding the President’s and Congress’s health care benefits probably stems from a dislike of the proposed health care changes and the bill encompassing them.
While it is true that the health care bill is riddled with many problems and inconsistencies, “unfair” treatment of the President and Congress is not truly a large factor in this bill.
In fact, it is more likely that there will be states eventually allowed to “opt out” of the health care plan, meaning that those citizens will be less affected by the changes than the President and Congress.
Currently, the President has health care through military coverage. When he retires, he will be eligible to continue that benefit or to opt for private insurance.
The President and his family members are, also the only individuals eligible for “free” medical coverage during the term of his presidency; members of Congress do not share in this benefit.
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