Congressional health coverage solid, not exclusive

The Oregonian‘s Charles Pope heard all the talk, especially from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), about the desirability of the health coverage members of Congress enjoy and decided to clear up a few misconceptions on the subject.

Sen. Ron Wyden speaks at Health Journalism 2009 in March in Seattle.
(Photo by Clare McLean, University of Washington Medicine)

The coverage Wyden and friends enjoy, while excellent, is no different than that available to millions of other federal employees. These employees are expected to contribute and copay just like most insurance consumers, and don’t get any truly unusual bonuses.

Federal employees do enjoy some advantages over the rest of us, however, primarily because they work for one of the nation’s largest employers and thus enjoy a level of bargaining power that yields a breadth of options not available to those who work for small or medium-sized businesses. Government workers in Washington, D.C., have 23 plans to choose from, Pope said, while in places like Oregon, they still have about a dozen options.

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