Would you pay $10,000 a year to stay married to your spouse? Some American couples are being faced with exactly that decision as they consider their health insurance options under ObamaCare.RELATED: NY Daily News Editorial Attacks America’s ‘Immaturity’ for Showing Anger Over Obamacare’s Lies
One of the most controversial provisions of ObamaCare is that it requires all Americans to purchase health insurance, whether they want it or not, or face hefty fines. To facilitate enrollment, the government has set up health care “exchanges” in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., where people can compare and purchase insurance plans. The government has promised subsidies to help those who cannot afford the higher premiums, but the way the subsidies are calculated mean they could pay up to $10,000 more per year.
The marriage penalty is a result of the way the government calculates poverty. While the poverty line for a single person’s income is $11,490 per year or less, a married couple is considered above the poverty line if their combined income exceeds $15,510. People are eligible for subsidies under ObamaCare if they make up to four times more than the federal poverty limit – $45,960 for a single person, or $62,040 for a married couple. But unmarried couples living together will have their incomes assessed separately – meaning that as long as each of them makes less than the individual cutoff, they can remain eligible for subsidies while bringing in a joint income of up to $91,920.
In 2010, the Heritage Foundation warned of this hidden marriage penalty in a report criticizing the ObamaCare bill for its “profound anti-marriage bias.” They also pointed out that focusing on the yearly penalty misses the bigger picture: the penalty is assessed over and over again throughout the couple’s life, meaning the real cost of marriage is much, much higher.
According to the group’s calculations, a married couple who remained married throughout their lives might pay more than $200,000 in penalties under ObamaCare.
“Most people feel that marriage is a healthful institution that society should encourage and strengthen,” wrote Robert Rector, the report’s author. “Inexplicably, [ObamaCare] takes the opposite approach. At nearly all age and income levels, the bill profoundly discriminates against married couples, providing far less support to a husband and wife than to a cohabiting couple with the same income.”