The Affordable Care Act rollout has been anything but smooth, to say the least. Here is a story that, even in the midst of endless website glitch and low enrollment reports, may surprise you.
A Brooklyn couple is considering getting divorced because they would save thousands of dollars a year on health insurance by doing so. The couple, Nona Aronowitz and Aaron Cassara, married in 2009. They told CBS New York that although they are deeply in love, they are not the “marrying type”. The reasons for their marriage were practical: Cassara needed health insurance, and if the two married, he would be covered under his wife’s employer-provided coverage.
When Aronowitz was fired earlier this year, and subsequently lost her health insurance, a wrench was thrown in their plans. They looked to the marketplace to purchase an insurance policy, but quickly found that, under the ACA, it would be much cheaper for them to purchase insurance as individuals rather than as a married couple.
This hiccup in the ACA pricing system has been called the “marriage penalty”. Put simply, the marriage penalty is flaw in the ACA’s subsidy bracket that makes it much easier for individuals to qualify for insurance subsidies than married couples. As a couple, Aronowitz and Cassara exceed the $62,000 a year household income limit that would grant them subsidy eligibility. But if they divorced and filed for subsidies using their individual incomes, they would qualify.
For Aronowitz and Cassara, they say this discount would be worth divorcing over. They would still live together and have the same relationship they do now, the only difference is they would not be legally married.
“After Obamacare has rolled out, we realized that we would save thousands of dollars if we got divorced,” Aronowitz said.
“In our case, it would be worth it,” she continued. “In other people’s cases, where marriage is really, really important to them and they had this big wedding and it was this sacred experience, I think it would be a really tough decision for them.”