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September 24, 2014

New Health Coverage Options for American Indians and Alaska Natives

Posted September 9, 2014
By Jace Killsback

As the tribal health administrator for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana, it’s important to practice what you preach. And that’s especially important when it comes to health insurance.

This hit home for me earlier this year when my wife Emily suffered a gallstone attack. We rely on the Indian Health Service for our care, and while they do a great job, her surgery needed to be done at a hospital in Billings.

It brought to our attention the need for health insurance, so I enrolled in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. I selected a plan that with tax credits costs $155 a month for our household of five.

I signed up for a plan in March and made my first premium payment in April. I was worried at first about possibly missing the open enrollment deadline, but I learned that members of federally recognized tribes can enroll through the Marketplace at any time.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and our new health insurance, we can go directly to a doctor or hospital off the reservation. Or if we go to the IHS clinic on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, our private insurance will compensate the clinic for that care, which brings in resources to our local IHS service unit.

The Marketplace is a huge benefit for Indian Country. I believe this opportunity for my people to have quality, affordable health insurance will give them not just a sense of pride, but also help them feel more connected to the community knowing that their health care needs are being met.

By getting covered through the Marketplace, I know my family and I are protected.  We can keep up to date on our health screenings and checkups and we have an easier time trying to live a healthy lifestyle.

You can find out about your options at HealthCare.gov or contact the Marketplace Call Center at any time, day or night, to apply by phone. Call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325).

If you already have insurance, check out these resources to help you make the most of your health coverage.

Content last reviewed on September 9, 2014