The Affordable Care Act (Obama Care)
is a federal law that provides health insurance coverage options that
are more accessible and affordable. Minnesota, like all states, was
given three options to deliver insurance to its citizens. Minnesota
chose a state-based exchange where the state runs its own Healthcare
Marketplace, now called MNsure.
Open enrollment for MNsure began on
Oct. 1 for most Minnesotans. American Indians of Minnesota,
tribally-enrolled or documented lineage, have no closing date to
enroll in a healthcare plan; more information will be provided in
regards to proof of enrollment and lineage. We are also exempt from
the federal mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health
insurance that includes tax penalties.
If you are eligible for Medical
Assistance (Medicaid), you are not required to enroll in a health
plan. Now, with any large complex system to implement, there are some
bugs to be fixed with the online enrollment. Please be patient or
schedule an appointment with your local Certified MNsure Navigator.
MNsure Marketplace offers unique benefits and opportunities for
American Indians. If you receive services, or qualify for services
from an IHS, Tribal, or Urban Indian Healthcare facility, you can
Consistent care: You can continue
to get care from your IHS, Tribal or Urban Indian Healthcare
No cost sharing: You will not pay
any out of pocket expenses such as copays and deductibles for any
service if you receive care from an IHS, Tribal or Urban Indian
Healthcare facility. You may also qualify for cost sharing for
services provided by an outside provider if you meet income
Tribal Sponsorship: Some Minnesota
tribes are supporting enrolled members by paying their insurance
premiums. Contact your tribal clinic for more information.
Coverage: Health insurance covers
the costs for health services needed outside of your IHS, Tribal or
Urban Indian Healthcare facility.
Options: Clear descriptions of all
plans with side-by-side comparisons of all private insurance
companies, public programs like Medical Assistance (MA) and
Minnesota Care (MNcare).
Better Programs: With more
American Indians having some form of coverage such as Medicaid,
MNCare and private insurance, Indian Health Services will be better
able to provide much needed health service programs such as diabetes
prevention and education and disease prevention and education.
As an American Indian growing up on
the Reservation, I had access to free health care funded by the
federal government through the Indian Health Service. Based on the
relationship between tribes and the federal government, free health
care is to be provided but as it currently stands, the medical
services provided to Indian County are funded at about 50 percent of
the need; and that’s a generous estimate.
Although extremely underfunded,
tribal clinics work with these limited resources available to them
and try their best to make end meets. However, I know of horror
stories of needed care being denied for lack of funding.
Our people are continuously facing
life and death situations, such as waiting for a stroke or heart
attack to occur instead of treating the condition before it happens.
Further, appointment wait times at tribal clinics push people to
their local emergency rooms, for non-emergent issues, creating a
financial burden on the healthcare system for those services. This in
turn, makes it more important than ever to have additional coverage
for all of your healthcare needs. If a true emergency arises, you
have that assurance, without a financial burden, to receive emergency
I was recently hired by the Indian
Health Board as the new Enrollment Specialist. My job is to help
enroll as many American Indians and their families through MNsure as
possible. I encourage you to take that first step in a healthy
direction by taking control of your healthcare needs. Having that
additional coverage can give a person piece of mind knowing that
those necessary services will be covered, when needed.
I know the idea of looking for a
health plan may seem foreign to some, however, the Indian Health
Board of Minneapolis has staff on hand that are available to answer
your questions and calm your concerns. Let me help you understand
what your role is and to make this process extremely smooth and leave
the worrying to me. If you would like to make an appointment with me
or have questions regarding eligibility, I can be reached directly at
612-721-9883 and by email firstname.lastname@example.org. Information can
also be found on our Web site, www.IndianHealthBoard.com, as well as
our Indian Health Board of Minneapolis Facebook and Twitter pages.