Financial advisor: Obamacare encourages divorce, other scams to 'bilk' the system

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Obamacare,Health Care,Divorce,Family Issues,Insurance Industry

With a little tax planning -- or even divorce -- wealthy Americans can easily bilk Obamacare out of tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to cover their insurance costs, according to a “how-to” written by a well-known financial advisor.

David John Marotta, of Marotta Wealth Management in Charlottesville, Va., said just a few lifestyle changes would enable a family that owns a business providing income of $140,000 to legally win enough subsidies to cover all but $600 of a $10,825 Obamacare silver plan policy.

“In trying to make Obamacare a middle-class entitlement, the legislation encourages even wealthy people to take advantage of the subsidies through divorce, early retirement, or just hiding family income in multiple 401k contributions. Incentives change behavior. Are these really the behaviors we want to encourage?” he told Secrets.

In a post on his firm's website titled “How To Bilk Obamacare,” Marotta and co-writer Megan Russell said that by reducing a family's modified adjusted gross income, it is easy qualify for subsidies available to Americans making up to 400 percent of the poverty level, about $94,200.

In their example, they offer up “Michael and Lisa,” both 51, with two children, and who own a business that earns income of $140,000. They are frugal and have put lots of money away in retirement and saving accounts, and they want to avoid surging private insurance costs.

Marotta suggests three paths to get the subsidies: divorce, retirement or tax planning, which is called the best alternative. Divorce is an option, he said, because Obamacare “heavily discriminates against married couples in favor of single parents.” The family could also sell their business and retire on little income.

But with tax planning, they can “receive the subsidy and keep their business.”

How? Marotta’s proposal is that the family split up their income among all four members and pour most into retirement accounts, leaving little income under Obamacare guidelines.

“Using this plan, the family has put a total of $109,000 into the company 401(k), $24,000 into Roth IRAs, and now has a taxable income of only $31,000. With this MAGI, the family of four would be at 132 percent of the poverty level. This qualifies them for the maximum ACA benefit, requiring them to pay just 2 percent of their income for a health care premium. The cost of a Silver plan, normally $10,825 (34 percent of their MAGI), would cost them only $600 per year,” Marotta said.

“The great complexity of the tax code offers a great opportunity for tax planning. Even if you have large savings, keeping your income low may open the door to having your health insurance subsidized,” the financial advisors concluded.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.