Gingrich: Obamacare Is 'Anti-Marriage and Pro-Divorce'

By Susan Jones | November 4, 2013 | 6:22 AM EST

(AP File Photo)

( - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is reminding Americans that the Affordable Care Act includes an "anti-marriage penalty" because it requires a married couple to pay much more for health insurance than co-habiting couples of the same age and the same income.

"It's both an anti-marriage and pro-divorce provision," Gringrich told CNN's "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" on Sunday. "I don't think anybody even knew it was in there."

But even before the Affordable Care Act became law, The Heritage Foundation warned about Obamacare's new federal marriage tax.

In a January 2010 report, the Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector reported on the health care bill's "pervasive bias against marriage."

Under the bill, he noted, "couples would face massive financial penalties if they marry or remain married. Conversely, couples who cohabit without marriage are given highly preferential financial treatment. If the Senate bill becomes law, saying 'I do' would cost some couples over $10,000 per year."

Rector warned that if the bill were enacted -- as it was two months later -- "married couples across America will be taxed to provide discriminatory benefits to couples who cohabit, divorce, or never marry."

Here's The Heritage Foundation's analysis:

The Senate bill is designed to provide health care benefits that are substantially more generous for lower-income persons. The bill’s anti-marriage penalties occur because of the income counting and benefit structure rules of the bill. If a two-earner couple is married, the bill counts their income jointly; since the joint income will be higher, a married couple’s health care subsidies would be lower.

By contrast, if a couple cohabits rather than marrying, the bill counts each partner’s income separately. Separate counting means that, all else being equal, cohabiters would be treated as having lower incomes and therefore receive disproportionately greater government benefits. The bottom line: under the bill, a cohabiting couple would receive substantially higher health care subsidies than a married couple even when the total incomes of both couples are identical.

Under the bill, the anti-marriage penalties increase sharply as a couple ages. The discriminatory anti-marriage penalties are particularly severe on middle-class “empty nester” couples. Many of those couples would pay an effective tax of $5,000 to $10,000 per year for the right to remain married.

For example, a 60-year-old couple, each earning $30,000 per year, would receive $10,425 per year less in benefits if they marry or remain married. Simply by divorcing and then living together, the couple can boost their post-tax, take-home income by nearly one-fourth.

Similarly, a 50-year-old couple, each earning $20,000 per year, would receive $5,114 less in benefits each year if they marry or remain married. By divorcing and then living together, the couple could increase its income by more than $50,000 over a decade.

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