Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC, October 2011.

Ted Cruz Campaign Damage Control: He Has Health Insurance

The presidential campaign of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is briskly walking back a statement Cruz made at a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Thursday, when he told an audience of supporters that his family — Cruz, his wife Heidi, and their two young daughters — were without health insurance because Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas canceled their PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) plan. In typical fashion, Cruz made sure to blame President Barack Obama and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for his supposed loss of coverage.

“I’ll tell you, you know who one of those millions of Americans is [sic] who’s lost their health care because of Obamacare? That would be me. I don’t have health care right now.”

Prior to the aforementioned PPO plan, Ted Cruz’s family was covered through his wife Heidi’s employer-sponsored health insurance plan. However, Heidi Cruz went on an unpaid leave from her job with Goldman Sachs in March 2015, planning to focus full-time on her husband’s campaign. After the Cruz family was no longer covered through her employer, Ted Cruz chose not to get continuing health coverage through the Washington, D.C. healthcare exchange, even though his job as a United States Senator entitles him to a 75 percent government’s employer subsidy. Many assume that, though this would unequivocally be the cheapest option for the Cruz family, Ted Cruz would find it politically untenable to give an ostensible endorsement of “Obamacare” by using the ACA-created local exchange to find a health insurance plan for his family — let alone admitting that it is the most affordable option.

At the beginning of Heidi Cruz’s unpaid job leave, the Cruz family purchased a PPO plan directly from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, which did recently cancel its PPO plans due to rising costs — but that’s where Ted Cruz’s understanding of the situation seemed to end, at least as of Thursday. Blue Cross Blue Shield automatically enrolled the Cruz family in an HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) plan immediately, meaning that there was no lapse in coverage.

Due to Ted Cruz’s obvious eagerness to blame the president and Obamacare, the question that is currently burning up social media is the following: did Cruz know this, and was he lying? He acknowledged at the Manchester campaign stop on Thursday that he received a letter in the mail from his health insurance provider informing him of the cancellation of his PPO plan, but those letters usually also inform their recipients that they have been automatically enrolled in a new plan. Yet, he said that his wife was angry with him for “letting their insurance lapse.” Did both Ted and Heidi Cruz fail to comprehend the letter they received, or was he being dishonest?

In an attempt to alleviate the confusion and suspicion that mounted throughout the business day on Friday, Ted Cruz campaign spokeswoman Catherine Frazier passed the blame to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. Frazier told press that Cruz’s insurance broker told him personally that he had lost his insurance coverage when his PPO plan ended on December 31.

“Senator Cruz believed the family was uninsured and asked the broker to pull quotes immediately for a new policy. The Cruz family is currently covered by a Blue Cross HMO.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that Ted Cruz has decided to cancel this plan and enroll in a PPO plan with Humana that bears a stronger similarity to the plan he had before, effective March 1. He claims, through Frazier, that this will cost him 50 percent more than what he had been paying for his Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas PPO. Putting aside that the Cruz family could easily save this money by purchasing a plan through the Washington, D.C. exchange and making use of Ted Cruz’s employer subsidy, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) reports that, when running an average, premiums in the state of Texas have only gone up 4 percent, making his latest claim suspect as well.

Los Angeles Times columnist Michael A. Hiltzik reports that some plans in Texas actually have decreased premiums since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and the HHS does not report a single plan premium that has increased by 50 percent.

[Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore/CC 2.0]