Beginning January 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act requires every American to demonstrate health coverage or pay a tax penalty to the federal government. The penalty starts at $95 per adult and $47.50 per child in 2014 and escalates to $695 per adult and $347.50 per child in 2016.
While shareholders of ANCSA regional and village corporations, and those enrolled in a federally recognized tribe are exempt, some Alaska Native people do not fall within either category.
The Southcentral Foundation and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) are initiating an outreach effort to educate and inform Alaska Native people of the impending changes and possible implications of the new law. “We are beginning the process of educating the Alaska Native population,” said Monique Martin, government relations specialist with the ANTHC. “Changes to health care regulations often lead to confusion, so we want to help to make this transition as seamless as possible.”
Who qualifies for exemption as American Indian or Alaska Native
American Indian and Alaska Native people are exempt from this penalty if they can provide evidence that they are 1) a shareholder of an Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) village or regional corporation, or 2) enrolled in a federally recognized tribe. Your CIRI shareholder identification card is adequate proof for the tax exemption, but a Certificate Degree of Indian Blood will not work for the tax penalty exemption.
While the new health care law does not impact services currently received at the Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC), Southcentral Foundation or from other Indian Health Service (IHS) providers, many current IHS beneficiaries may have to pay the tax penalty if they do not have other health insurance or are not otherwise qualified for an exemption.
To avoid the penalty, ANTHC recommends that Alaska Natives who are not shareholders of an ANCSA regional or village corporation consider enrolling as a member of a federally recognized tribe.
Alaskans will have a new option of purchasing health insurance through the federal marketplace as early as October for plan coverage that becomes effective Jan. 1, 2014. Income-based subsidies will be available for those who qualify and Alaska Native people will be allowed to enroll for insurance coverage monthly, instead of annually. “It’s important for everyone to learn more about the options available. Now is a good time to do the research so they can be prepared and avoid potential penalties next year,” Martin said.
For more information on the Affordable Care Act, visit www.healthcare.gov. For more information about ANMC or Contract Health Services, contact (855) 482-4382.
How to enroll in a tribe
Tribal enrollment rules are different for every tribe. You are most likely to qualify for tribal enrollment in the village where your family comes from, but that is not always the case. Contact tribes directly to learn what is required for enrollment. Tribal addresses can be found at www.ncai.org/tribal-directory. You can also contact the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Alaska Regional Office, at (800) 645-8465.
How to become a CIRI shareholder
CIRI stock cannot currently be sold and enrollment to the corporation closed in the 1970’s. Today, the only way to become a shareholder is to receive stock through inheritance or as a gift from a CIRI shareholder. A gifting packet with complete instructions and eligibility requirements is located here.