Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun touted his private-sector record of keeping health-insurance rates “affordable” for employees during a televised debate Monday, days after it was reported that his workers and their families have to pay thousands of dollars before their benefits kick in.
Braun, a multimillionaire running to unseat Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, repeatedly cited his “outside-the-box” approach as a businessman as a reason to send him to Washington during the debate, held at Purdue University Northwest in Westville, Ind.
Braun criticized Donnelly for supporting the Affordable Care Act, a law that, among other provisions, prohibits insurers from refusing plans to people with pre-existing conditions.
Braun, a former Indiana state representative, denied Donnelly’s charges that he didn’t support protections for pre-existing conditions despite endorsing a lawsuit 20 state attorneys general filed in February challenging the ACA’s constitutionality.
“I would never be for not covering pre-existing conditions,” Braun said, before defending his company’s health coverage. “My insurance is good and much better than the failed Obamacare plan.”
However, Politico reported Friday that his company — Meyer Distributing, an auto parts and shipping company — required employees to pay deductibles of $5,000 for individuals or $10,000 for families before their bills were covered.
“It was not real insurance,” former employee Heath Kluemper told Politico. “If I did ever have to go to the hospital, I’d have been screwed.”
During the debate, Braun’s campaign tweeted Meyer had been “covering pre-existing conditions and holding premiums steady” for 10 years.
Premiums at Meyer cost about $70 a month for a single person or about $400 a month for a family, according to Politico. But steady premium costs don’t necessarily mean affordable care.
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation employer survey released last week, Braun’s single-coverage deductible is more than three times the national average — $1,573.
“If you’re a low-income person, a $10,000 deductible could push you over the edge,” Alex Slabosky, the former president and CEO of Indiana University Health Plans, told Politico. “I just can’t imagine how he can say this is a model for American health care.”