Today is the National Tribal Day of Action for Affordable Care Act Enrollment. Over 65 events are being hosted in tribal communities across the nation and President Obama wants to ensure that every American Indian and Alaska Native has the information they need to take advantage of new health care options available under the health care law.
The new health care law is another way the federal government is honoring its trust responsibility and obligations to Tribes. Ensuring that additional health care options are available for all Native Americans is simply another step in our ongoing efforts to promote well-being and economic prosperity in Indian Country.
Many Native Americans currently use an Indian Health Service (IHS) or tribal health facility and that is not changing. But private health insurance offers new protections. Taking advantage of the new health insurance options provided by the Affordable Care Act can give American Indian and Alaska Native families the peace of mind of knowing they have comprehensive health insurance, even outside of the IHS system.
Many American Indians and Alaska Natives who have signed up for health insurance coverage report that they were surprised at just how affordable it can be to get covered. Many are eligible for assistance to lower or even eliminate their monthly insurance premiums. And, if you’re a member of a federally recognized Tribe and you choose to buy a private health insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you may not have to pay any out-of-pocket costs like co-pays or deductibles. Many American Indian and Alaska Native families are also finding that they are now eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Overall, this can add up to more reliable and more comprehensive health care at little to no cost.
Today, you can visit a tribal health care enrollment event from Oklahoma to Alaska. Step into the Alaska Native Medical Center for an event hosted by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium or visit Rapid City Regional Hospital where the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Health Board staff can walk you through the enrollment process. Across the country tribal communities and urban Indian organizations are partnering to help American Indians and Alaska Natives get covered.
But you need to act to ensure that you and your family fully benefit from the new health care law. Every American Indian and Alaska Native should learn more about how the Affordable Care Act can benefit them as soon as possible. The best way to review your options is to go to HealthCare.gov. You can also visit your local IHS or tribal clinic, or you can call 1-800-318-2596.
David Agnew is the White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs