Donna Gallagher: ‘Unbanked’ may be denied insurance

July 20, 2013 

‘Unbanked’ may suffer

When the new federal health care law goes into effect next year, North Carolinians who don’t have bank accounts could find themselves shut out of opportunities to improve their circumstances.

According to Families USA, 868,520 uninsured residents of our state are expected to qualify for tax subsidies that can be used to purchase insurance through the healthcare exchange. While 89 percent of these residents are working, many have no checking or savings accounts and are effectively “unbanked.”

The problem is that insurance companies often require individuals to pay their monthly premiums via automatic withdrawal from a checking account. No account, no insurance.

Recently federal officials proposed a requirement for insurers to accept a menu of payment options, including cashier’s checks, money orders and prepaid debit cards. Those proposed rules should become the law of the land.

In addition to ensuring North Carolina’s unbanked get the health coverage they need, our local leaders can play a strong role in connecting banks, credit unions, and community organizations so that our neighbors can join the financial mainstream – saving for the future, building credit and turning their earnings into valuable assets.

Donna Gallagher

Executive director, The Collaborative of North Carolina, Raleigh

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