When Affordable and Un-Affordable Have The Same Meaning


By Molly Mulebriar

Executives at Webster’s are divided these days.  Not since “gay” went from happy to queer has the American language undergone such swift and rapid change.

Take for example the word “affordable.” Historically this word meant that something was priced reasonably and within one’s budget. However, that may have changed with the passage of the Affordable Care Act under which the American government mandates  that the definition of “affordable” is 9.5% or less of the cost of goods and services as pertains to 1/6th of the American economy (health care).

It is our understanding that when a court does interpret a statute like the Affordable Care Act, certain government codes requires it to ascertain the legislature’s intent. Further, it is our understanding that when construing a statutory term, government codes require words to be given ordinary meaning. The ordinary meaning of the word “affordable” includes “low cost”  and “cheap.”

Executives at Webster’s are debating whether “affordable” now means “high cost” and “expensive.” Since the government’s definition is tied to a percentage of something  of value to determine if a product or service is affordable,  does the true meaning of “affordable” take on the same connotations as “gay?”