Rep. Louie Gohmert hates Obamacare so much that he's just going to go without insurance. According to the Dallas Morning News, he made good on his promise last month to go without health care because Obamacare plans were too pricey. “I actually don’t have insurance right now, so thank you very much, Obamacare,” he said during a recent radio interview. Politics aside, we think that's a really bad idea and we're a little concerned.
On the one hand, we can see why this would be a great political move. Even Ted Cruz, for all his #MakeDCListen huffing and puffing, has a pretty sweet plan through Goldman Sachs, thanks to his wife. But there's a new sort of legitimacy to Gohmert's anti-Obamacare arguments. "I lost my health care. I liked it OK, but I didn’t get to keep it,” he told the Dallas Morning News. “I couldn’t afford to go up four or five times what I was paying and double my deductible, and so I’m better off with just setting money aside for health care and paying the penalty." Even with a employer subsidy of $950 (which he refused) Gohmert says he still would be paying more than he was before, for a higher deductible. A lot of Americans can relate to that, especially his fellow Republicans. A December poll found that 45 percent of uninsured Republicans would rather stay uninsured than get Obamacare.
What they can't relate to is the special health care privileges afforded to Congress, like free out-patient care at DC area military hospitals, or $503-a-year care at the Office of the Attending Physician. More importantly, most people are a little more motivated to get insured than Gohmert is, as they very well should be.
Of all the members of Congress, Gohmert is probably one of the worst candidates for going without insurance. Considering Gohmert's political messaging record — like his Boston bombings comments, or his "basic human plumbing" defense of homophobia — we're surprised to say that this is his most ill-advised stunt to date. Why?
He's old. The average age of Representatives is 57. Gohmert is 60. And while he'll be eligible for Medicare in five years, he's also getting to the age where he's more likely to start suffering from arthritis, cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. Not to be morbid, but now is the time to really be vigilant about screenings. And while he has access to those procedures in D.C., if he went to the East Texas Medical Center in his hometown of Tyler, Texas, complaining of chest pains, he'd probably end up with a bill for $34,137. The New York Times has a great interactive on hospital fees, if you want to agonize over how much Gohmert could end up paying for medical care.
He has a wife. Did anyone ask Kathy Gohmert if she minded not having insurance? At 59, she's also more at risk for several illnesses. Then again, according to Gohmert's most recent financial disclosures, Mrs. Gohmert is gainfully employed with the Christian Women's Job Corps. On the one hand, she might have insurance, since Gohmert never says "we" don't have insurance, just "I." Hopefully she's got a plan, since she's not eligible for any of the congressional perks available to her husband. Otherwise, she would truly be without insurance, and the Gohmerts would be paying out of pocket for everything from medical emergencies to breast cancer screenings.
He's kinda broke. Well, not really. Gohmert makes $174,000 a year, which is only a low income if you ask Mitt Romney. But compared to his friends in Congress he's not doing well — his net worth is negative $162,000, thanks to his mortgage, a personal loan, and at least $65,000 in student loans for his kids. If he had to take out loans to put his kids through college, how is he going to pay for a slipped disk? Someone like Darrell Issa, who is worth about $355 million and hates Obamacare just as much, would be much better suited to handle the surprise medical expenses of one's early 60s.
Basically, being uninsured is a bad idea, and we're worried. Even if Gohmert went outside of the exchanges to get a cheaper, non-compliant plan, he'd protect himself financially. Or if he took his employer subsidy (as he has been ever since he joined Congress), he and his wife could be insured. That's why junk plans were so popular — literally anything is better than being uninsured. But then, it seems like he just wants to be a martyr for the cause. We wish you all the best, Louie.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.