The third Open Enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act is November 1, 2015, through January 31, 2016. This period is an opportune time for people of Indian descent or who are otherwise eligible for services from the Indian Health Service, tribal program or urban Indian health program to enroll in a Marketplace plan.
On the Marketplace, you may find a plan that fits your budget and may qualify for an advance premium tax credit. Visit www.healthcare.gov to learn about your health coverage options or visit your IHS, Tribal facility or urban Indian health program to speak with an enrollment assistor.
Some benefits are available to members of federally recognized Tribes, such as year round enrollment. Members of federally recognized Tribes including Alaska Native Claims Act (ANCSA) shareholders, with certain household income levels may be eligible for a zero or limited cost sharing plan. Individuals may also be eligible for a premium tax credit, which can offset the cost of the insurance plan premium. The American Indian/Alaska Native benefits under the Affordable Care Act are:
- For a family of four with an income between $24,250 and $72,750 and eligible for premium tax credits, members can enroll in a zero cost sharing plan. This means no out-of-pocket costs like deductibles, copayments and coinsurance for care.
- For a family of four with an income below $24,250 or above $72,750, members can enroll in a limited cost sharing plan. This means no out-of-pocket costs when receiving care from an Indian health care provider or from another provider with a referral from and Indian health care provider.
- Enroll or change a Marketplace plan any time of the year.
The Indian Health Service has collaborated with the National Indian Health Outreach and Education (NIHOE) National Partners – the National Indian Health Board, National Congress of American Indians and National Council of Urban Indian Health – to host national and urban Tribal Days of Action to promote Affordable Care Act education and enrollment in certain cities and for specific populations across Indian Country. The Days of Action are:
- November 3, 2015: National Tribal Day of Action
- Week of November 16, 2015: ACA Native American Week of Action
- November 18, 2015: AIAN Benefits Fair and ACA Enrollment in Phoenix, AZ
- December 3, 2015: National Tribal Day of Action
- December 8, 2015: Urban Indian Outreach and Enrollment Event in Phoenix, AZ
- December 10, 2015: Tribal LGBT Two Spirit Day of Action
- December 14, 2015: Urban Indian Outreach and Enrollment Event in Dallas, TX
- January 7, 2016: Urban Indian Outreach and Enrollment Event in Rapid City, SD
- January 11, 2015: Urban Indian Outreach and Enrollment Event in Anchorage, AK
- January 20, 2015: Urban Indian Outreach and Enrollment Event in Tulsa, OK
- January 21, 2016: Urban Indian Outreach and Enrollment Event in Oklahoma City, OK
The Affordable Care Act requires all people to have minimum essential coverage or pay a fee on their income taxes. American Indians, Alaska Natives and those eligible for services through the Indian Health Service, Tribal programs or Urban Indian health programs can get an exemption to the fee by applying through the Marketplace or when filing their federal income tax return.
A person with any type of insurance is still eligible to receive services at IHS. Having health care coverage means IHS can collect reimbursements from the insurance carrier. As a result, these third-party revenue will help facilities expand their access to care.
For more information, visit www.healthcare.gov or the IHS Affordable Care Act website.
Robert G. McSwain, a member of the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California, is the Principal Deputy Director for the Indian Health Service (IHS). Mr. McSwain most recently served as the Acting Director for the IHS, and has more than 30 years of experience in Tribal health care.