Updated 10/30/2013 at 3:45 p.m.
Washington (CNN) - During Wednesday's congressional grilling of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, demanded to know why Sebelius wasn't on the Obamacare exchanges.
Sebelius pointed out that she couldn’t get Obamacare because she has employer-sponsored insurance and the law does not allow her to.
After a heated exchange, the Secretary said it would be illegal for her to get insurance through the exchange.
Is this true? Not entirely, according to the Healthcare.gov website.
Sebelius is actually legally allowed to get insurance over the exchange but she would have to forego the employer contribution to her premiums.
In the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan, that employer contribution accounts for a majority of her premiums. In order to get a private health insurance plan through Obamacare, Sebelius would have to pass up what surely amounts to more than $10,000 in annual compensation.
Here’s the relevant FAQ from Healthcare.gov. LINK
Update – Sebelius has Medicare
There's a new wrinkle in the case of whether Sebelius can get health insurance via the Obamacare exchange or not.
It turns out Sebelius was right. But not for the reason she said.
Sebelius said at the hearing that she couldn't enroll on the exchanges because she has employer sponsored health insurance. That is incorrect.
She did not mention Medicare, but it she turned 65 back in May and so she is technically a Medicare enrollee even though she clearly still believes she gets health insurance via the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan.
It is illegal for a Medicare enrollee to obtain insurance on the exchanges.
"Marketplace plans cannot be sold to a Medicare enrollee, and the Secretary is a Medicare enrollee," said spokeswoman Joanne Peters.
Indeed, a CMS FAQ from October clarified that, "Consistent with the long-standing prohibitions on the sale and issuance of duplicate coverage to Medicare beneficiaries (section 1882(d) of the Social Security Act), it is illegal to knowingly sell or issue a Qualified Health Plan (QHP) to a Medicare beneficiary. This prohibition does not apply in the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) market."