PARSIPPANY, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Millions of Americans eligible for programs under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be unable to enroll in health coverage, according to a new study by Jackson Hewitt® titled Uninsured + Unbanked = Unenrolled: How Health Insurance Companies Could Exclude One in Four Eligible Americans from ACA Health Coverage and What the Federal Government Can Do to Stop It. The report is the first to examine the currently unaddressed yet critical role that access to banking may play in providing tax credits and health insurance under the ACA.
According to the report, more than one in four uninsured Americans (approximately 8.5 million people) eligible for the new ACA premium assistance tax credits does not have a checking account, the vehicle through which insurance companies plan to require customers to pay healthcare premiums. At present, the federal government is not requiring insurance companies to accept other commonly-used forms of payment, such as debit cards. Without an accessible payment channel, Americans who are “unbanked” would be denied this important coverage – and would then be subject to a fine for not being covered.
Research has found that the discriminatory impact will be especially large among African Americans and Hispanic Americans, who are more than 40 percent more likely to be unbanked relative to uninsured white residents in the tax credit eligible income category. Such individuals comprise more than half of uninsured and unbanked who may effectively lose access to the ACA’s coverage programs. In addition, as many as five million veterans and other Americans who received benefits on prepaid debit cards may not be able to use those cards to make their required payments for federally-subsidized insurance.
“Federal inattention to this issue may effectively hollow out efforts to enroll the uninsured,” said Brian Haile, senior vice president for Health Care Policy at Jackson Hewitt and one of the authors of the report. “The negative effects will be disproportionately felt by African Americans and Hispanic Americans, groups who already experience significant health disparities. These findings should be deeply troubling for everyone who is working to improve minority access to health insurance coverage and medical care.”
In addition, the report uncovered that the impact on the unbanked will be disproportionally large in states that will have federal health insurance marketplaces in 2014. This includes 11 of the 12 states with the highest proportion of unbanked consumers among those eligible for tax credits. The report also includes a state-by-state assessment of the proportion of unbanked among non-elderly by income group, as well as national information by race, income group and health status.
Additional authors of the report are George Brandes, associate for Health Care Policy at Jackson Hewitt and John Graves, assistant professor of preventative medicine and medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
To access the report and for more information about the Affordable Care Act and its impact on taxpayers, please visit Jackson Hewitt’s public ACA website and click on ‘Resources.’ Additional information can also be found at Brian Haile’s Twitter channel. The report is also available by request.
About Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc.
Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. is an industry-leading provider of full service individual federal and state income tax preparation, with 6,800 franchised and company-owned locations throughout the United States, including 2,800 located in Walmart stores nationwide, and more than 400 Sears stores in the United States and Puerto Rico for the 2013 tax season. Jackson Hewitt Tax Service® also offers an online tax preparation product at www.JacksonHewittOnline.com. For more information, or to locate your neighborhood Jackson Hewitt® office, visit www.JacksonHewitt.com or call 1-800-234-1040. Jackson Hewitt can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.