The Marriage Penalty in Health Care

Conservatives have been exchanging email for weeks about the shocking fact that Obama’s health care bill discriminates against marriage while financially favoring unmarried couples living together. This fact is finally getting national attention, at least in the Wall Street Journal and on Fox News.

Here is the cost in the House bill for an unmarried couple who each earn $25,000 a year (total: $50,000). When they both buy health insurance (which will be mandatory), the combined premiums they pay will be capped at $3,076 a year.

But if the couple gets married and has the same combined income of $50,000, they will pay annual premiums up to a cap of $5,160 a year. That means they have to fork over a marriage penalty of $2,084.

The marriage penalty is the result of the fact that government subsidies for buying health insurance are pegged to the federal poverty guidelines. Couples that remain unmarried are rewarded with a separate health care subsidy for each income.

When the Wall Street Journal reporter quizzed the Democratic authors of the health care bill, they made it clear that this differential was deliberate. The staffer justified the discriminatory treatment because “you have to decide what your goals are.”

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Submitted by Nancy W.

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