Obamacare substantially penalizes married couple only families. Given modern American marriage patterns, this includes many young/young middle-aged marrieds who have not yet started a family or are not planning to have children, and almost all older marrieds since their children have moved out. It also impacts most gay marriages--which, for obvious reasons, tend to be childless.
From The Atlantic:
Any married couple that earns more than 400 percent of the federal poverty level—that is $62,040—for a family of two earns too much for subsidies under Obamacare. "If you're over 400 percent of poverty, you're never eligible for premium" support, explains Gary Claxton, director of the Health Care Marketplace Project at the Kaiser Family Foundation.The couple cited in the article were looking at health insurance costing $9,248 a year. Married they could receive no subsidy. Single, living together, they could receive a $3,964 subsidy and "possibly even be eligible for Medicaid, thanks to their uneven individual earnings that year."
But if that same couple lived together unmarried, they could earn up to $45,960 each—$91,920 total—and still be eligible for subsidies through the exchanges in New York state, where insurance is comparatively expensive and the state exchange was set up in such a way as to not provide lower rates for younger people. (Subsidy eligibility is calculated using a complicated formula involving income in relation to the poverty line, family size, and the price of plans offered through a state's marketplace.)
There is also a "marriage penalty" in the tax code, but it is much increased under Obamacare.
"In the tax code, you have a different set of tax rates for married couples that mitigates the marriage penalty to some degree," says Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation who has been writing about the marriage penalty in health reform since 2010. Under Obamacare, however, there are "dramatic" penalties that are "substantial—particularly with couples in the upper age range," he says.H/T Byron York