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Letter: Health care reform bill has marriage penalty

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There is a huge marriage penalty in the Health Care bills now working their way through the House and Senate.

For example, two single people, each making $30,000 per year, would pay $1,320 per year combined for private health insurance if the Pelosi bill was in effect now. But if they were to marry, they would then pay $12,000 a year (the estimated cost for private insurance for those who are not subsidized).

This couple would be required by law to each year pay more than $10,000 in additional cost for health insurance under the House bill if they get married! The Senate bill works the same way.

The system works this way because it subsidizes those who make less than 400 percent of the poverty level. That benchmark is $86,640 per year for two people living together unmarried, but it is $58,280 for two people who are married -- a window of $28,360, from $58,280 to $86,240, where two people are far better off living together unmarried as compared to being married.

This discriminatory system will have a big impact on people at lower income levels, too. They will realize that if they marry and improve their earnings, they'll quickly reach a point where their health insurance premiums will skyrocket, increasing by over $10,000 a year. Only half of those insurance premiums will be tax deductible. This huge added cost will provide a powerful incentive to not marry and to also keep their income below certain levels. I call this the "concrete ceiling," an income cap that will be difficult for many people to overcome.

There are powerful incentives in the bills for businesses to discontinue providing health insurance, which will force millions of couples into the individual insurance market. Once there, these individuals will receive their former health insurance benefits only if their combined income is below 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Many millions of couples will then see their insurance costs go up by that same $10,000 figure -- if they stay married --a cost they won't pay if they divorce.

These health care bills, if passed, will virtually destroy marriage in our country. What will be left of our nation then? The American people have a right to know what is in these bills.

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