Beyond his desire to obey the law, if Cruz surveyed the market for individual insurance, he'd probably learn pretty quickly that the exchange is almost certainly his best option.
He could sign up for coverage through COBRA, the law that requires employers to offer their employees health insurance for 18 months after they quit. If Cruz is the very optimistic type, he will need coverage for 20 months — from now until the election next November. So his coverage could, theoretically leave him short.
The other problem with COBRA: it's expensive. Typically, the employer and the employee split the price of an insurance premium. But former employees on COBRA pay the entire cost.
Cruz could buy individual market coverage Without using the exchange, although that shopping experience can be messy. Outside of the exchange, there's no central repository of health insurance plans that lets you explore different options. While Healthcare.gov did indeed have a disastrous launch, the website now is actually pretty good for comparing different plans.
Then there's the option of Not buying coverage at all and paying a Fine. This year, the Cruz family would pay either a $1,300 penalty for 2015 ($325 each for Cruz, his wife, and his two daughters) or 2 percent of their income, whichever is greater. That's likely cheaper than buying an insurance plan but also comes with the massive downside of remaining uninsured.
Finally, we come to the health insurance exchanges. If members of Congress want to get coverage through their job, Obamacare requires them to go to the marketplaces rather than the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Members of Congress can get subsidies here for their health insurance, although Cruz has indicated he won't accept it.
"I strongly oppose the exemption that President Obama illegally put in place for members of Congress because (Senate Minority Leader) Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats didn't want to be under the same rules as the American people," Cruz told CNN.
Correction: This post initially stated the length of COBRA insurance. It is 18 months.