The health care bill has a marriage penalty

Published 8:03 am Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Health care is an important concern for everyone because it is a matter that involves life and death issues. One of the great concerns to many of us is the high cost of premiums that we pay to have adequate coverage. No matter what political party you belong to, there is general agreement that some type of health care reform is needed. The Republicans would rather not see a jump into a public option but would rather see gradual reforms.

Everyone should be concerned about what may be hidden in the bills currently being debated in the U.S. House and Senate. Can the politicians say that they have read the bills and know what is in them? Have they honestly explained the various items proposed in the bills, and how they would affect us? We should all be very concerned about what may be thrust upon us as the Democrats try to push through these extreme changes.

According to research done by Allen Quist, one of the Republican candidates for Congress, the House and Senate health care bills contain a huge marriage penalty for the American middle class. Quist made the following statement about the marriage penalty:

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“There is a huge middle class marriage penalty hidden in the House and Senate health care bills. The penalty becomes evident by evaluating questions like the following: How much would two single people, each making $30,000 per year, pay for private health insurance if the (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi bill was in effect now? The answer is $1,320 per year for both individuals combined (based on the premium limits outlined on the chart below). But how much would they pay for the same level of insurance under the Pelosi bill if they were to marry? Their combined cost would then be about $12,000 a year (the estimated cost for private insurance).”

His chart appears on this page in the upper right.

Mr. Quist explains in his press release that, “Once the income of Americans exceeds 400 percent of the federal poverty level, there are no limits on the premiums they can be charged, and their premiums are no longer subsidized. The poverty level is much higher for two people living unmarried as compared to the same two people being married. That is why citizens in many cases would pay far more for insurance if they are married. Why should married people be subjected to financial discrimination?”

This means that married people with a combined income of between $58,280 to $86,640 would be penalized, and as premiums for private insurance escalate, the marriage penalty would become much larger. The Senate bill also creates a marriage penalty by imposing a new tax on individuals who make $200,000 annually and also includes married couples who make $250,000 a year.

This research also notes that the Senate bill stipulates that two unmarried people, 52 years of age, with private insurance and a combined income of $60,000, $30,000 each, will pay a combined cost of $2,483 for medical insurance. If a couple were married, however, they would pay a combined cost of $ 11,666 for insurance — a penalty of $9,183 for getting married. It looks as though those who can be claimed as dependents for federal income tax purposes could avoid the marriage penalty by living together unmarried. The new system provides a huge incentive for doing so. Quist emphasizes that, “Senior citizens and small businesses have already been identified as big losers in the health care bills. Married citizens in the middle class need to be added to that list.”

These are interesting and shocking facts and figures. Let’s make sure we get all the information from those who wish to decide our future with the health care package. Will the American middle income people once again be carrying the heavy load by sacrificing the money they have worked so hard to earn? Contact your representative in the U.S. Senate and ask U.S. Congressman Tim Walz about a marriage penalty in the bill. Since Walz voted for the bill, let’s ask him to explain exactly how the health care bill will affect us in all ways. A phone call to Walz, to verify this information, has not been returned.

The House bill is H.R. 3962 (see sections Title III, Sub.C, Secions 342 to 344, Page 246, line 3, to page 255, line 15.) For fall reference go to

The D.C. phone number for Walz is (202) 255-2472.

Sybil Broskoff is co-chairwoman of the Freeborn County Republican Party.