Today is the National Tribal Day of Action for Affordable Care Act Enrollment! Enrollment events are taking place 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 the health care options available under the health care law.
Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell spoke directly to tribal leaders and community members on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act for American Indians and Alaska Natives. The Secretary encouraged action from tribal leaders and community members, to get them, their friends, and their relatives enrolled! Today’s National Tribal Day of Action on Affordable Care Act enrollment is a perfect opportunity for Indian Country to rally with community partners in health to get yourself, your friends, and your family enrolled. Please join us in this effort to get covered with quality, reliable, and affordable health care insurance.
Many Native Americans currently use an Indian Health Service (IHS) or a 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.
If you’re a member of a federally-recognized tribe and under a certain income level, you might even qualify to pay reduced or no costs for a private health care policy, including low or zero out-of-pocket costs. Also, you can check to see if your state has expanded Medicaid, as you might now qualify!
Many American Indians and Alaska Natives who have signed up for health insurance coverage through the healthcare marketplace 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.
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.
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/tribal. You can also visit your local IHS or tribal clinic, or you can call 1-800-318-2596.
Raina Thiele is Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House.