Lawmakers Get First-Class Service to Ease Obamacare Enrollment

Image: Lawmakers Get First-Class Service to Ease Obamacare Enrollment D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Wednesday, 20 Nov 2013 08:23 AM

By Melanie Batley

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As millions of Americans struggle to navigate Obamacare's chaotic enrollment process, members of Congress and their staffs are coasting through, thanks to special first-class services set up to help them every step of the way.

According to The New York Times, the District of Columbia has arranged a special web portal with an expanded menu of top health plans, a dedicated toll-free assistance line, and on-site support to help them navigate the DC Health Link insurance exchange set up under the healthcare reform law. The services are designed to make it easier for the lawmakers and their aides to compare their options and instantly enroll in a coverage plan.

"DC Health Link set up shop right here in Congress," Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat who is a D.C. delegate to the House, told the Times.

When the district's online exchange opened on Nov. 11, congressional employees who went online in the first few days had few problems compared to the experience of millions on HealthCare.gov, the exchange designed to server most of the country that continues to cause problems for people trying to create accounts.

"I submitted my application in less than 15 minutes," Drew Hammill, communications director for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, told The Wall Street Journal.

In addition to having special services provided to help them sign up, lawmakers and their staffs also will continue to receive the same employer premium subsidy they had with their old insurance plans under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

The subsidy, the Times notes, covers about 75 percent of premium costs on average, allowing many on Capitol Hill, particularly the young, to further reduce the cost of their coverage.

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