There may be contrary examples, but in all of my research into the inner workings of Obamacare as embodied in Kaiser’s model, I was unable to find a single instance where staying married led to a lower net healthcare premium compared to divorcing and living together. Clearly, many couples who are considering marriage, especially after several years of seeing formerly married couples regress to cohabiting, will look at Obamacare’s “wedding tax” and say, “Never mind.” The effect on society will be incalculable, and certainly not for the good.
As designed, Obamacare threatens to turn cohabiting while functionally living as if married into a national sport. Paraphrasing what I noted at my home blog in March 2010, the following grim scenario appears likely:
The law in many if not most states says that you can’t cohabit indefinitely and still claim not to be married.
Because the government will be starved for money, the Internal Revenue Service will task itself with finding cohabiting couples and divorced couples still living together who are “illegally” claiming that they are not married for health care subsidy purposes.
Those caught and punished by the IRS carrying out its new role as the de facto “marriage police” could get hit with multi-year bills for undeserved “tax credits” running into tens of thousands of dollars.
16,500 new IRS agents won’t be anywhere near the number needed to enforce the Obamacare regime.
Open question: What kind of advice will the program’s navigators give to couples in sticker shock over their Obamacare exchange premiums? Will they counsel divorce, or will doing so be considered aiding and abetting tax evasion?
I find it utterly amazing and more than a little disheartening that the arguments made by Rector and yours truly for so long have gained so little traction, even among Obamacare’s most ardent opponents. Principled conservatives with bigger megaphones should not have waited this long to make these critical financial and family values arguments. But here we are, and we’re running out of time.
It’s likely that Obamacare’s implementation, no matter how expensive, incompetent, riddled with fraud and cronyism, compromised by privacy invasions and identity thefts, and disrespectful of Americans’ religious consciences it turns out to be, will be irreversible. To my knowledge, no other major entitlement program in U.S. history, no matter how unworthy or fiscally ruinous, has ever been fully repealed once it began — which is why Obamacare cannot be allowed to take effect.
If the results presented in this and the previous column aren’t enough to persuade Republicans and conservatives that it’s “now or never” time to defund this madness, what ever will be?