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Penalty for Marriage in Obamacare
Penalty for Marriage in Obamacare

Every time you think that we've finally touched bottom on Obamacare, some new problem emerges. So what began merely as a dysfunctional website became a broken and mis-designed system. When it turned out that lots of people were paying more for their plans, it then turned out that others were having their plans canceled—and that some people were even losing their doctors. And now we're finding that, along with everything else, Obamacare contains a marriage penalty, too.

Obamacare signing

A married couple can get Obamacare subsidies if their income is less than 400 percent above the poverty line. But because the federal poverty level for married couples is less than double the level for individuals, a couple that lives together without getting married can make more money than a married couple, yet still get Obamacare subsidies.

The Atlantic reports that in practice, this means that a married couple in New York making more than a combined $62,040 gets no subsidies from Obamacare. But two people who live together without getting married? They can make up to a combined $91,920 and still get subsidies from the government.

The government has a clear and compelling interest in promoting marriage: Virtually all of the research shows that stable marriages increase economic output, reduce poverty, shrink income inequality, lower rates of incarceration and drug use, and spur the creation of future taxpayers (aka babies). The tax code already discriminates against the government's interest by providing an economic incentive for couples to choose cohabitation over marriage. Now Obamacare has come along to magnify the discrimination.

It's not clear whether this perversity is accidental or by design. But it's yet another line item in the argument against what is clearly the most catastrophic piece of legislation in modern American history.

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