GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz says his family is no longer covered by health insurance, and he thinks it’s all Obamacare’s fault.
“I’ll tell you, you know who one of those millions of Americans is who’s lost their health care because of Obamacare? That would be me,” Cruz told the audience at a campaign stop New Hampshire on Thursday evening. “I don’t have health care right now.”
But the Affordable Care Act isn’t directly responsible for Cruz’s current situation.
Last year, the Cruz family signed up for health insurance through Obamacare’s state insurance marketplaces. (Thanks to a Republican-sponsored amendment that was introduced to prove a point about Obamacare, federal lawmakers and their staffers are required to enroll in these Obamacare plans if they want to maintain the government contribution to their insurance.)
Cruz’s family used to be covered through a PPO plan with BlueCross BlueShield of Texas. But for 2016, the insurer decided to eliminate PPO plans and move to offering only HMO plans on the individual marketplace (which is becoming a bigger trend in the insurance industry). The insurance company announced this decision last July.
The July announcement gave people enrolled in BlueCross BlueShield’s plans a full five months to select a new HMO plan if they wanted to maintain coverage into the new year. Ted Cruz’s family apparently just didn’t sign up in time.
At the campaign event on Thursday, Cruz joked that the lapse in coverage hasn’t gone over well with his wife Heidi — whose employer-sponsored health insurance used to cover the family until she left her job last spring to work on his presidential campaign.
“By the way, when you let your health insurance policy lapse, your wife gets really ticked at you,” Cruz said. “It’s not a good — I’ve had, shall we say, some intense conversations with Heidi on that.”
To get coverage beginning in March, the family has until the end of the month to select a new policy. Cruz indicated they’re working on doing that.
“We’re in the process of finding another policy,” Cruz, who once spent more than 21 hours filibustering funding for Obamacare, said. “I hope by the end of the month we’ll have a policy for our family. But our premiums — we just got a quote, our premiums are going up 50 percent. That’s happening all over the country.”
Some premiums for plans on Obamacare’s marketplaces have risen, but they haven’t skyrocketed by 50 percent. According to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the average Obamacare premium for 2016 plans rose about a 9 percent compared to last year.
In a reversal, the Cruz campaign now says that Ted Cruz's family actually had insurance all along. Although their initial PPO plan did lapse, BlueCross BlueShield of Texas automatically enrolled them in another plan -- known as a "health maintenance organization” plan -- to keep them covered. Cruz just didn't realize it. Even though the family does have some type of coverage, Cruz still plans on shopping around for a new plan that's closer to the old one his family had.