In addition to a tsunami of glitches in online enrollment, Obamacare is designed with a payment structure that undercuts marriage and the family—two institutions that have historically provided the foundation for a sustainable and thriving civil society.
The law is structured to provide less support to a husband and wife than it would to the same couple if they were cohabiting. In essence, it will tax married couples to fund the benefits it provides to couples who cohabit, divorce, or never marry. The impact of this discrimination will affect couples at every income level and creates a scenario in which couples’ wisest financial decision would be to divorce or forgo tying the knot.
America has already seen a 50 percent decline in the marriage rate since the 1970s and a tenfold increase in cohabitation. If Obamacare exacerbates this decline, many more Americans could miss out on the positive effects that marriage has for both men and women. Children, in particular, will suffer amidst continued family dissolution regarding poverty, physical and emotional health, and the likelihood of success.
Without the benefits of an intact family, children are 82 percent more likely to live in poverty and tend to fare worse on a wide range of economic measures. In their teens, they are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors such as sexual activity, substance abuse, and anti-social behavior. They also tend to fare worse on emotional and psychological outcomes and have lower levels of academic achievement and educational attainment.
The backup plan to tying the knot—cohabitation—will not offer protection from the impact of this cultural disintegration. Research from the National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values reveals that, compared with peers who live with both biological parents in intact families, children in cohabiting households are more likely to suffer from a range of emotional, social, and behavioral problems and less likely to succeed academically. According to government data, they are also at least three times more likely to be abused physically, sexually, or emotionally. In fact, regarding significant measures of well-being, children in cohabiting households fare worse than counterparts in single-parent families.
In addition, cohabiting couples are much more likely to separate than married parents: Children born to cohabiting couples are 170 percent more likely to experience a parental breakup than children born to married couples. This family instability carries dire consequences for children and is linked to poor relationships with parents, behavioral and health problems, and school failure.
Obamacare should be stopped and ultimately repealed before it takes its devastating toll on America’s civil society. Policymakers should also pursue policies and programs to promote and strengthen marriage and an intact family structure.