REUTERS / Carlos Barria
The elected deputy Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York arrives for a class photo with the newly elected members of the US House of Representatives on Capitol Hill in Washington, United States, November 14, 2018.
Members of Congress and their staff choose a gold-level health plan through the open market. According to Snopes, Congress members pay about 28 percent of their annual health awards through pre-tax payroll deductions and receive federal grants covering 72 percent of the cost of the premiums.
They also receive special "free or low-cost" health benefits not offered through health plans on the open market. Snopes reports that Congress members can pay an unspecified annual fee to receive care from the attending physician's office for routine exams, consultations, and certain diagnostic tests. In addition, members can obtain free medical assistance at military facilities in the D.C. area.
Ocasio-Cortez recorded annual earnings of $ 26,581 in 2017, when he lived in the Bronx Parkchester neighborhood. Based on the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Insurance Market Calculator (KFF), she would have paid about $ 160 a month – about $ 1,922 a year – for a silver plan if she was still living in the Bronx and was doing the same figure in 2019.
According to the Congressional Research Service, "the compensation for most Senators, representatives, delegates and the Puerto Rico resident commissioner is $ 174,000." If the Ocasio-Cortez estimate is accurate, members of Congress pay less than $ 80 a month – about $ 960 a year – for high-level health care.
According to the KFF, the Americans have paid an average of $ 5,714 in annual premiums in 2017.
Paul Ginsburg, director of the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy, tells CNBC Make It that it is possible that individual members of Congress can pay roughly this amount for their health coverage. But he maintains, however, that it is difficult to directly compare the coverage of an individual, such as Ocasio-Cortez, and a member of Congress. He pointed to the New York history of particularly high premiums as one reason why he could pay so much when he was a waitress.
However, his comments highlight important problems related to the sustainability of health care in the United States.
A recent survey of over 2000 adults conducted by Harris Poll revealed that 54% of Americans delayed obtaining health care and 10% of Americans with children under the age of 18 delayed # 39; assistance to an employee in the last year because of costs.