Why Did Ted Cruz Sign Up For Obamacare?

2016 Presidential Candidate Is Signing Up For Program He Opposes

Ted Cruz
Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is worth more than $1 million, according to personal financial disclosures. Alex Wong/Getty Images News

Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz announced he was running for president in the 2016 election with a goal of "repealing every word of Obamacare," among others. A short time after launching his campaign Cruz said he was likely to sign his family up for health care coverage under Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act.

Yes, he was benefiting from the very law he was working so hard to kill.

Here are some questions and answers about Ted Cruz and Obamacare.

Why Did Ted Cruz Sign Up for Obamacare?

Before launching his presidential campaign, Cruz had access to his wife's health care coverage through her job at Goldman Sachs. But the couple temporarily gave up the insurance plan, reportedly valued at $20,000 a year, when she took an unpaid leave of absence from Goldman to help Cruz campaign for president.

Cruz told CNN: “We'll be getting new health insurance, and we'll presumably do it through my job in the Senate, and so we'll be on the federal exchange like millions of others on the federal exchange."

Does Cruz Really Have to Use Obamacare?

Actually, no. Cruz and his wife don't have to get insurance through Obamacare. He and his wife have several other options, just like all Americans do. Because his wife was taking a leave from her job, they could have applied for COBRA benefits, which could have provided them with health insurance for another 18 to 36 months.

But the most obvious alternative to joining the Obamacare exchanges is buying health insurance directly from a public or private insurer. In fact, the only benefit - though a significant one - to Cruz for using the Obamacare exchange would be the federal government's contribution to his insurance costs, worth thousands every year.

Cruz, however, has said he would not accept the contribution anyway, so there's really no point in him using Obamacare. "Listen, I have zero intention of taking any government subsidy or Obama subsidy. Rather, what I'm going to do is pay in the marketplace for health insurance for my family, just like millions of Americans," Cruz said.

While there are no private insurance plans available in Washington, D.C., outside of the Obamacare exchange, Cruz could buy private insurance in his home state of Texas. "He could buy health insurance through an agent or broker in the individual market in Texas if he wanted to," Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University, told CBS News.

So How Did Cruz Explain His Enrollment in Obamacare?

Cruz said he was just following the letter of the law that required members of Congress to take part in the very health care overhaul they had sign off on. "It is written in the law that members will be on the exchanges without subsidies just like millions of Americans," Cruz told the Des Moines Register. "I think the same rules should apply to all of us."

Under the Obamacare health reform law all 435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 members of the U.S. Senate and their thousands of Capitol Hill staffers lost their traditional federal coverage they had been receiving under the Federal Employee Health Benefits program.

Most of them signed up for insurance through the health care exchanges established in Obamacare.

But others have, in fact, decided to purchase insurance elsewhere. Cruz could do the same.

How Did Democrats Respond?

They jumped all over it. On Twitter, the U.S. Senate Democrats quipped: "Ted Cruz: Obamacare for me, but not for thee."