Yes, naysayers, it's true. The so-called "Affordable Care Act" (ACA) discriminates and, in this instance, it discriminates against marriage and family formation, two important cornerstones of the Catholic life.
How's that possible?
In the same way that the nation's tax code penalizes couples who get married, ACA penalties discourage couples from getting married.
A study conducted by the Senior Fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, Devon M. Herrick, indicates that even though all legal U.S. residents are allowed to purchase health coverage in ACA exchanges, those much-touted subsidies will only be available to individuals and families with combined incomes from 100% to 400% of the federal poverty level--today that's incomes from about $23,550 to a little more than $94,200 for a family of 4.
Given these subsidies, here's the facts about how ACA discriminates against those two cornerstones of Catholic life:
- Two unmarried college students, each earning about $23k annually decided to cohabitate without the benefit of marriage. Individually, they would each qualify for a subsidy of about $1,087, or $2,174 for the household.
- If those college students opted instead for marriage, their combined household income of nearly $46K would rise as a percent of the poverty level from 200% (individually) to 296%, now that they are a married family of two. As a result, their premiums in the health insurance exchange would be capped at a higher percentage of their income, providing a smaller subsidy. How much? $753. Thus, the marriage penalty is $1,421 (or, 5.46% of their combined income).
Notice that the exchange subsidies are generous to low-income individuals and that may represent good social policy. However, the exchange subsidies are more generous to unmarried couples than to married couples, hitting couples in moderate-income households (a combined income of $30k to $55k annually) the most. In The Motley Monk's opinion, that's terrible social policy.
The economics lesson?
ACA's structure creates perverse disincentives to marriage and family formation by adding an additional tax burden to the existing marriage penalty contained in the tax law.
The political lesson?
The politicians who crafted and voted for as well as the President who signed ACA into law have decided that marriage and family formation may be a luxury that middle income citizens shouldn't be able to afford.
What kind of nation discriminates against those two cornerstones of Catholic life, marriage and family formation?
One whose politicians have destined the nation to traverse the road to oblivion.
Let the discussion begin...
To read Devon Herrick's study, click on the following link:
"The Health Exchange Marriage Penalty."