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Alaska Natives Exempt from Affordable Care Act

By Grace Jang, Investigative Reporter, gjang@ktuu.com
Published On: Oct 09 2013 09:20:00 AM AKDT
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -

Alaska Natives are among select groups of people who are exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

“You can also demonstrate you are exempt from the requirement to purchase insurance if you can demonstrate you are enrolled in a federally recognized tribe, that you are enrolled as an ANCSA village or regional corporation shareholder, or that you are eligible to be an Indian Health Service beneficiary,” said Valerie Davidson, senior director of legal and intergovernmental affairs for Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

ANTHC received a federal navigator grant to help Alaskans figure out the health insurance marketplace.

Davidson said Alaska Natives could benefit from extra healthcare coverage beyond HIS.

“What a lot of folks don't know is that the Indian Health system, including here in Alaska, is actually only funded at about 50 percent of the level of funding needed, even by the federal government's own analysis,” Davidson said. “The only kind of travel, medically necessary travel that is paid for by tribal health programs is medically necessary—basically life or limb travel, medevac, etc. Then that access to care is considered life or limb and it's paid for.

But if a person is able to get additional coverage, the IHS coverage is considered a payer of last resort, and so being able to have additional coverage may make the difference between you being able to travel to Anchorage, Fairbanks or Juneau to get additional specialty care that's not available perhaps in the community that you live in that may be an average village size of 300 to 350 people.”