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As an American Indian or Alaska Native, there are certain steps that you must take in order to meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. There are also benefits that may be available to you if you’re a member of a federally recognized tribe or Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act shareholder.
This new infographic from the HHS Office of Minority Health provides important information about the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, defines eligibility for the Health Insurance Marketplace and the benefits of enrolling, and identifies where to get more information.
View the infographic, and visit HealthCare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 for assistance.
Tucked away in central Wyoming you will find the Wind River Indian Reservation—home to the Eastern Shoshone and the Northern Arapaho tribes, and home to a spirit of perseverance and self-determination that permeates America. While we celebrate the rich traditions of our nation’s indigenous people during National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, we cannot forget the fateful history that is imprinted on Indian Country. With this history in mind, we can work to create a brighter and healthier future for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Earlier this year, I had the privilege to visit the Wind River Indian Reservation to meet with tribal leaders and community members about the challenges faced by American Indians. We know that this community frequently contends with issues that prevent them from receiving quality health care including cultural differences, geographic isolation, environmental threats, and low income—all factors that impact health. But what resonated with me most during my visit was the enduring hope that sprung forth from the community—a hope that with sound resources and opportunities, these barriers can be broken down.
One barrier that we are striking down is access to affordable, quality health care for American Indians/Alaska Natives. And since the passage of the Affordable Care Act five years ago, America’s Native population has greater coverage from a variety of providers including their local Indian health service units. This increased access provides a certain level of security that is a bright light amidst challenging life circumstances.
At the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH), we are working to ensure that American Indians/Alaska Natives—who face significant health disparities including higher rates of uninsurance, higher rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and chronic liver disease, higher rates of suicide, and lower life expectancy—have access to coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. To increase awareness of the opportunities and benefits for American Indians/Alaska Natives made possible by the Affordable Care Act, we have created a new infographic that answers common questions, including information on the Indian health coverage exemption.
More than 500,000 uninsured American Indians/Alaska Natives have the opportunity for coverage through the Marketplace, and it is our goal to see as many members as possible of the American Indian/Alaska Native community gain coverage—and the peace of mind that comes with being covered. While members of federally recognized tribes and Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) shareholders can enroll in Marketplace coverage any time of year, we encourage consumers in these communities to visit HealthCare.gov to sign up for coverage during the current open enrollment period, which runs through January 31, 2016. Anyone who signs up for coverage by December 15, 2015 can have coverage beginning January 1 for a healthier start to the New Year.
American Indians/Alaska Natives gaining health insurance coverage is beneficial not only to the individual, but to their tribe as a whole. The more American Indians/Alaska Natives who have health insurance, the more tribal health providers can obtain reimbursements from insurance companies, allowing the reinvestment of those dollars back into their communities. This means additional services and greater capacity to provide care to American Indians/Alaska Native people.
OMH not only works to maximize access to care for American Indians/Alaska Natives, but also supports efforts to strengthen the capacity of the community to address health disparities. Through OMH initiatives such as the American Indian/Alaska Native Health Disparities Program, the American Indian/Alaska Native Health Research Advisory Council (HRAC), and the Higher Education Technical Assistance Project (HE-TAP), OMH is helping create programs to encourage Native youth to pursue health professions careers, strengthen disease surveillance of Tribal Epidemiology Centers and Urban Indian Health Programs, address tribal health research priorities, and enhance the capacity of Tribal Colleges and Universities.
With access and opportunity, the future for Indian Country is one filled with the hope to overcome the odds and to fully realize the promise a healthier tomorrow.
To learn more about your health insurance options, visit HealthCare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325) 24/7. Find free, confidential in-person assistance in your local area by visiting localhelp.healthcare.gov.
To learn more about the HHS Office of Minority Health visit www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov.
J. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE, is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and the Director of the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Recently, the U.S. Office of Minority Health hosted a Twitter chat about strategies to reduce health disparities among Latinos. Federal agencies, media,
advocates, community-based organizations and others took part. The discussion dealt with a range of health, social and economic topics —including the need
to increase health literacy among Latinos and educate health care providers to offer more culturally and linguistically competent care.
With the third open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace underway, partners also talked about
the Affordable Care Act's success in helping 4 million Latinos gain health insurance
, and getting even more people enrolled by January 31, 2016.
In case you missed it, find a recap of the conversation on Storify and help continue the
dialogue for better Latino health.
Ed. note: This was originally published on the
In the first week of the third Open Enrollment, more than 540,000 people selected a health insurance plan through the HealthCare.gov platform and more than 1.15 million consumers were included on applications submitted to the
Marketplace. Even more signed up through their State-based Marketplaces.
It’s a solid start and I’m pleased with the consumer engagement we’ve seen over this last week. Our partners were ready to work, and people were ready to
sign up. We know we have 11 more weeks to go and a lot of hard work still to do.
We saw about 358,000 existing Marketplace customers come back in, shop, and actively select a plan that best meets their needs. We are especially glad to
see that our existing customers heard our message about shopping and are eager to renew their Marketplace coverage. We expect renewals to make up a larger
share of our customers this year, since we have more than 9 million people with coverage through the Marketplace nationwide.
It’s important to recognize that it is difficult to directly compare this year to last year on a week-by-week basis for a number of reasons. For example,
because Open Enrollment started on November 1 this year, compared to November 15 last year, the time from the start of Open Enrollment to the December 15
deadline to sign up for January 1 coverage is much longer this year. We know from past experience that people are deadline driven, so we don’t expect to
see deadline effects for a few weeks.
Last week, the President announced a “ Healthy Communities Challenge.” We
are targeting 20 communities with large numbers or high percentages of uninsured, geographic diversity, and community leadership. And there is a big
incentive: the victorious community gets bragging rights, a healthier community, and a visit from President Obama to celebrate their success in helping
ensure every American has health coverage.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the chance to speak with thousands of assisters, local community leaders, and others who are on the front lines, helping
their neighbors sign up. I also visited four cities where we know
many of the uninsured live.
I was impressed by the level of commitment I saw on the ground. From small community health centers, to local governments, to issuers and big corporations,
we’re seeing people invest in this Open Enrollment. In fact, one major insurer is holding more than 3,000 events in its state; a national pharmacy has
pledged to work in more than 12,000 of its stores; and one health system in Houston has already sent out thousands of letters -- all to encourage
enrollment. This kind of commitment shows that this market is stable and strong, and that businesses want to invest and be a part of it.
I was also reminded once again of why we do this important work. In Jersey City, I met Jesicca Fernandez, who endured years of stomach troubles while she
was uninsured. Once she found coverage on the Marketplace, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and she’s now getting the treatment she needs to live a
Millions of people like Jesicca have found quality, affordable coverage on HealthCare.gov. All told, the uninsured
rate has dropped by 45 percent since 2010.
Now even more Americans have a chance to get covered. Most will be able to get financial assistance—more than 7 in 10 returning Marketplace customers will
be able to buy a plan for $75 or less a month in premiums after tax credits. And with new improvements to the site, signing up onHealthCare.gov is easier than ever. Most people will find it to be a simple and smooth experience, like this recent letter-writer to President Obama.
Whether shopping for health insurance for the very first time or re-enrolling in their Marketplace coverage, people are ready to get covered. Consumers are
coming to HealthCare.gov, having a smooth experience and finding plans they can afford. That’s the Marketplace at
I run my own company, which restores wildlife habitats and wetlands, working with government agencies, landowners and private enterprises. But, as a
self-employed person, it was a challenge trying to pay for health coverage for my daughter and myself.
I have congenital joint problems and have had six surgeries on my spine since the 1980s. I’m facing a knee replacement soon. It was terrifying watching my
insurance rates go up and up, until I was paying about $1,200 a month to cover the two of us. And then it became worse when the recession hit and I had to
use up my house equity and pension to help cover living expenses.
As soon as I could, I enrolled in a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace at
HealthCare.gov. And with the
start of Open Enrollment this past Sunday, I’m joining Americans across the country in checking out our options on the Marketplace for 2016 coverage.
When I enrolled during the first Open Enrollment, I qualified for tax credits and was able to get a policy that covered us for $438 a month. It has made it
possible for me to breathe for the last couple of years. If something happens, I know my 22-year-old daughter and I are covered.
I was one step away from bankruptcy until the Affordable Care Act. I almost lost my house.
I lived in fear of losing my health care policy, as my pre-existing conditions could eliminate future coverage and I would be in serious trouble.
Being able to afford high-quality coverage has been a great relief. And there hasn’t been one bit of difference in the quality of care that I’ve gotten
since I enrolled in a plan through the Marketplace.
I’ve started checking out my Marketplace coverage options for 2016 and learned that I may be able to add my main subcontractor as an employee and enroll my
company in insurance that I think would cover my daughter, my employee and myself for an estimated total of $1,000, plus my company would get a 50 percent
I’m still shopping on HealthCare.gov and I haven’t decided yet which option I will choose, but I know I will find a
good deal to re-enroll in quality coverage that I can afford.
Things are looking up. And they can look up for you, too.
If you don’t have insurance or are renewing, check out your options for affordable, quality coverage through the Marketplace at HealthCare.gov. Sign up by December 15 for coverage effective January 1.
Financial assistance is available. More than 7 in 10 returning Marketplace customers will be able to buy a plan for $75 or less a month in premiums after
And if you need help or more information about how to enroll, you can contact the 24/7 call center at 1-800-318-2596, or find in-person help at www.LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov.