'Unbanked' May Soon Equal Uninsured

May 27, 2013
The Street 

Tired of bank fees, many consumers are turning to prepaid cards as an alternative to traditional checking accounts; but a study from Jackson Hewitt has found that individuals without a checking account may be unable to buy health insurance through government exchanges that will be launched this fall. The new exchanges, mandated by the Affordable Care Act, are considered an online marketplace for individuals and small businesses and meant to give access to affordable coverage. Health insurance companies, however, usually require families to use checking accounts to pay monthly premiums -- so up to 8.5 million uninsured Americans may be prevented from buying on the exchanges because they lack a checking account. In addition to that shortcoming, prepaids do not enjoy federal fraud protection as do credit and debit cards; and they also are not insured by the FDIC. Prepaid cards offer convenience in many situations, but consumers should reconsider before they close their checking and savings accounts.
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