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American Indians and Alaska Natives: How to Use Your New Health Insurance

Since many American Indians and Alaska Natives have used the Indian Health Service all their lives for health care, using health insurance can be an unfamiliar challenge. You can still use it when you visit IHS, and you can use it to access health services with other providers and facilities.   

If you now have access to health insurance, through the Affordable Care Act, your job or your Tribe, using your coverage for the first time can be confusing.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the Department of Health and Human Services has developed a great brochure entitled From Coverage to Care and has even developed a Tribal version of this document that:

  • Contains information and tips on how to understand and use your health insurance
  • Serves as a very helpful roadmap with suggestions on how to choose providers and how to prepare for your health care appointment
  • And is also tailored to provide you information on special benefits and resources for American Indians and Alaska Natives 

For more information, go to or

Yvette Roubideaux, M.D., M.P.H., is Senior Advisor to the Secretary for American Indians and Alaska Natives at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.