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NerdWallet Year In Review: Personal Finance Headlines of 2012

Dec. 5, 2012
Personal Finance
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It’s been a crazy year—but which news stories affected your finances? We recap the highlights of personal finance news in 2012:

The Affordable Care Act May Raise Health Insurance Costs

The revolutionary health care reforms of the Affordable Care Act—better known as Obamacare—are already underway. That didn’t stop presidential candidate Mitt Romney from vowing to repeal the ACA on the campaign trail. But despite the ACA’s goal of making health insurance coverage available to 30 million Americans, experts see unintended consequences and rising costs.

  • The existing landscape of the health care industry is hard enough to understand, and the complex system of ACA reforms doesn’t help. A study found if the public understood the bill, support would skyrocket from 30% to 70%.
  • A phenomenon known as the “adverse selection death spiral” could mean that health insurance under the ACA will actually cost much more than it does today.

More States See Marriage Rights Extended To LGBT Couples

The past year saw same-sex marriage made legal in more states, throwing a spotlight on the legal and financial protections of marriage. While tying the knot may seem like a romantic symbol, it has real implications on estate planning, divorce protections and tax status.

  • Same-sex couples have to spend between $10,000 and $15,000 to privately contract for the federal rights granted to heterosexual married couples.
  • LGBT marriage was in the news again when Chick-fil-a CEO Dan Cathy’s defense of “traditional marriage” went viral. While the company tried to walk back his statement, a look at the numbers shows Chick-fil-a profits go to anti-gay non-profits.

The Costs of Secondary Education Soar

Post-graduate degrees that were once thought of as a ticket to financial security and high-income are turning into dead ends in today’s rapidly shifting employment landscape.

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there will be 218,800 job openings lawyers between the years 2010 and 2020—meaning 21,880 openings per year. But the American Bar Association says that U.S. law schools awarded 44,004 J.D.s in 2010.
  • According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s estimates, the outstanding student loan debt in the US hit $1 trillion in 2011. Students can’t keep up with that debt load — nearly one in 10 borrowers whose first repayments came due in 2009 defaulted in 270 days.

Candidates Claim Obama Wants To Slash Medicare

Political candidates often put senior citizen issues front-and-center, as the elderly reliably get out the vote. The 2012 election saw plenty of Medicare discussion aimed at swaying the older adult constituency.

  • This year Republicans said President Obama planned to “funnel” $716 billion from Medicare. Experts pointed out however, that the truth was more complicated—the $716 billion number is actually projected savings being redirected elsewhere.
  • Vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s plan will transform Medicare—but not for the existing group of seniors. His plan would cut Medicare in half by 2050.