Obamacare’s implicit $1,200/year ‘wife tax.’

OK, strictly speaking it also could be fairly called a ‘husband tax’ or a ‘spouse tax.’ You may also quibble on the ‘tax’ bit, largely because this is being done to avoid a tax.  But, hey: no Republican voted for this monstrosity, remember? So I’m admittedly a little indifferent to any Democratic pain over the nomenclature.

To avoid the Affordable Care Act’s so-called “Cadillac tax” on rich benefit plans, companies are adding surcharges of $100 a month or more to wives and husbands of workers, hoping spouses will seek coverage elsewhere,new employer data shows.


The idea behind the so-called “spousal surcharge” employers are implementing is to reduce the number of people an employer covers so the company can save money and avoid triggering the special excise tax for plans with high cost benefits.

Basically, if you have a high-end plan – and thanks to inflation, the definition of ‘high-end’ will get broader and broader every single year – then the company that you work for will want to get your spouse off of your insurance plan whenever possible. If making you pay a hundred bucks a month will do so, then that’s what an increasing number of them will do. To be fair, many companies don’t really want to, because people get cranky on the subject, but again: no Republican voted for this monstrosity.  “Tell your troubles to Jesus: the chaplain’s gone over the hill.”

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: When a pro-Obamacare sort asks you what the big deal is, don’t explain to him or her that:

  • People don’t like having to have two separate health plans. Even when they can manage to get the same doctors, dentists, and optical services;
  • The system effectively penalizes stay-at-home parents (hi!);
  • Or that this system pretty much makes families have to hope that the person with the better health care coverage is the person who gets the life-threatening illness;

…or any of the other umpteen billion unintended consequences to this one.  Instead, talk to the person who’s eavesdropping on your conversation. That person might be amenable to reason.



  • Luke says:

    Very much this.
    When my wife had to go out on long term medical disability, the company was willing to keep her on the insurance rolls if she paid full freight. Which, considering the circumstances, was necessity. If painful.
    But keeping me on the policy would have cost significantly more. The monthly fee would have been more than I’d spent on medical care in the past four years combined.

  • Lady Penguin says:

    It’s a non-starter for the spouse to seek coverage elsewhere if they only have a 29hr/wk, low-paying, no benefits job thanks to the monstrosity known as the unaffordable care act. This is the case for my son and his wife. Thankfully, she has a good job with a company and can afford what said company might have to tack on, for now. Otherwise, my young and healthy 28yr old son would just go without and pay the “penalty” – since he now has a job where he cannot afford insurance on his own.

    PS When we were his age, most of didn’t have insurance and could afford the occasional doctor visit. The young and healthy don’t need anything but catastrophic coverage, but the powers that be were intent on stealing from them to take control of our lives.

  • acat says:

    … I don’t ever remember the “spouse plan” or “family plan” being a straight “n times two” deal .. perhaps I missed something? It’s always been either discounted (“n times two minus x”) or .. padded (“n times two plus x”) .. depending on whether the company is trying to do.
    I’ve had companies both try to get Mrs. Cat off “my” plan .. or trying to make employees happy by encouraging me to put Mrs. Cat on “my” plan .. it seems more to relate to what the insurance carrier is charging, and how much of that the company is eating to avoid the obvious “My insurance cost went up by $500 but my salary went up by $400, WTF!” shouting matches…
    Anyway, all of that aside, definitely talk to the crowd, not the pajama-boy Obamacare acolyte. In fact, picture the acolyte in gender-appropriate winter-in-Minnesota flannel, smile at the image, and proceed.

  • Dan says:

    Makes me thankful I stayed those last few years in the Army to retirement. Until they pull more of the rug out from underneath us, between Medicare and Tricare for Life I’m doing OK for now.

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