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What the Health Care Law Means for American Indians and Alaska Natives

En español l The health care law provides several new benefits and protections that are particularly important to American Indians and Alaska Natives. By understanding what’s in the law, you can make better health care choices for you and your family.

Strengthens the Indian Health Service

  • The law provides for permanent authorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. This includes funding for programs to increase the Indian health care workforce, new services for promoting health and preventing disease, additional ways to improve access to health care services, construction of Indian health facilities, and an Indian youth suicide prevention grant program.

Creates a new way to shop for health insurance

  • If you don’t have insurance, you can find a plan that works for you and your family in the Health Insurance Marketplace in your state. Help is available every step of the way. You can get your questions answered about finding a plan or completing the application in person, by phone or online.
  • Plans offered in the marketplace are required to cover important benefits, such as doctor visits, emergency care, hospitalization, prescription drugs, preventive care and more.
  • It is important to know as an American Indian or Alaska Native you will not pay a penalty if you decide not to buy health coverage.
  • If you do decide to buy coverage, you have more opportunities to buy coverage through the marketplace in your state. Usually, there is just a once-a-year opportunity to enroll, but tribal members can enroll monthly.

Financial help is available

  • Depending on your income, you may be able to get financial help to cover some of the costs for health insurance you purchase through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Insurance plans are improved

  • If you have children, they can stay on your family health insurance plan until they turn 26. Even if your child is in school, lives away from home or is married, as long as they are under age 26, they can stay covered.
  • Insurance companies can no longer deny you coverage, because of a preexisting condition like diabetes, high-blood pressure or cancer.
  • You no longer have to pay out-of-pocket costs for some preventive care services. This includes flu shots, mammograms, and other screenings for certain cancers or diabetes.
  • If you have Medicare, it now covers a yearly wellness visit and more preventive care. This includes cancer, cholesterol and diabetes screenings, immunizations, and more.
  • If you have Medicare Part D, and reach the coverage gap, you get a discount of more than 55 percent on brand-name drugs and a discount of more than 35 percent on generic prescription drugs while you are in the coverage gap. How much you’ll pay out of pocket for each drug may vary, depending on your Part D plan. The discounts will continue to grow until the coverage gap disappears in 2020.

It’s time to learn more about the health care law. Go to

Updated August 2014

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