Third-Party Payment: An Option for Americans Who Can’t Afford Health Insurance

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<p>Affordability concerns are a major reason why many Americans who need health coverage aren’t enrolling in a marketplace health plan. Even with the Affordable Care Act’s tax credits, many people have difficulty paying their uncovered premium costs.</p><p>A new report from the Commonwealth Fund examines the potential of third-party payment (TPP) programs to help low-income consumers obtain marketplace coverage. Funded by local hospital systems and run by independent nonprofits, these programs pay premium costs not covered by tax credits.</p>
<p>Policy analyst Stan Dorn, a senior fellow at Families USA, found that the most effective local TPP program reached 25 percent of all eligible marketplace enrollees. Hospitals funding these programs, meanwhile, benefit financially, since they’re treating fewer uninsured patients. And insurance carriers report that their balance of sick and healthy enrollees has remained stable.</p>
<p>Dorn notes that improving the affordability of health insurance on a national scale will likely require broader policies, such as increased premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions. But in the meantime, widespread adoption of TPP, he says, represents a practical option for helping more low-income adults get needed coverage.</p>