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Why Buy Health Insurance?

Indigenous woman stands near a city streetEnrolled members of federally-recognized American Indian Tribes are not required to have health insurance. You may have heard that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) requires that everyone get health insurance or pay a penalty, but this is no longer the case.

You can get some primary care and selected other services at your local Indian Health Service (IHS) or Tribally-run Clinic without health insurance. However, all clinics will urge you to enroll in a health insurance plan.

There are many reasons that you might want to have health insurance:

More choices: When you have health insurance, you can choose where you go for care. You can continue to use the IHS or Tribal clinic, but you can also get care from any of the other providers paid for by your insurance, often at no extra cost.

More flexibility: When you have health insurance, you don’t have to worry about going to the right clinic or notifying the IHS within 72 hours if you have to go to the emergency room or urgent care. Your health insurance will pay for your care at these places.

Access to more services: Health insurance will pay for services that you might not be able to get at the IHS or Tribal clinic, like specialty care. If you have health insurance, you also don’t have to worry about the IHS or Tribal clinic running out of funding to pay for your services.

Benefit your Tribal community: Even if you prefer to use the IHS or Tribal clinic, having health insurance will help the clinic pay for services. This provides much-needed funding for the clinic and its other patients.

Special protections for American Indians: Under Obamacare, members of American Indian Tribes can purchase health insurance from the Health Insurance Marketplaceat any time. Obamacare also makes it easier for Native Americans to qualify for no-cost health insurance like Medicaid and ensures that you never have to pay any out-of-pocket costs at the IHS or Tribal clinic. Visit the Healthcare.gov page on Health Care Coverage for American Indians and Alaska Natives to learn more.

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