Obamacare's Marriage Penalty

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) penalizes married couples by making it more difficult than unmarried couples to receive subsides. Under the new law, couples living together who are not married could save up to $10,000 more than a married couple.

The ACA requires married couples to combine income and prohibits them from filing as two individuals, while an unmarried couple living together can file as two individuals. Consequently, this disparity creates a disadvantage for couples who choose marriage.

The ACA dictates that subsides are based on income. The less you earn, the more money you can get from the government to pay for health insurance. In order to receive a government subside, a married couple must earn less than $62,040. Therefore, a married couple with each spouse making $35,000 annually for a combined income of $70,000 dollars would not qualify for a healthcare subside. In contrast, an unmarried couple with each partner making $40,000 for a combined income of $80,000 could qualify for thousands of dollars in subsides. 

Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Robert Rector considers this as an inherent bias. In an interview with the Deseret News, he remarked, “It’s a system that preferentially rewards the exact same people for not being married… It’s as if they took the income tax code and took away all the tables that relate to married couples.”

Rector does not think this inequity is random but rather that the tax law was formulated on ideological grounds. He claims that unmarried couples often vote Democrat and married couples lean Republican. 


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