In a victory for health insurance exchange customers with lower incomes, HHS issued a final rule (PDF) Wednesday that will allow individuals to pay their premiums with a prepaid debit card. The move allows individuals who do not have a bank account, called the “unbanked,” to pay premiums with a card they add money to that's issued by a credit card company.
The rule responds to widespread concerns that insurers would only take payment by check and credit card, while millions of lower-income Americans who will be buying coverage on the state insurance exchanges are unbanked because they can't afford the costs associated with checking accounts and credit cards. Some insurers had said they wanted to be able to set their own payment policies. They don't necessarily like credit or prepaid debit cards because the fees they have to pay are high.