Health officials made a pit stop in Rapid City on Saturday in support of the Affordable Care Act.
About a dozen people showed up to the meeting held at The Club for Boys. The seminar was designed to help guide people who want to sign up for health insurance through the healthcare exchange.
Officials from the Health and Human Services department partnered with community leaders from the Western South Dakota Community Action Agency and the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board (GPTCHB) in support of the department's collaborative effort to encourage Native Americans to enroll in the health insurance plan, via the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Tinka Duran, who serves on the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board, said their focus is on American Indians and people of federally recognized tribes.
She says nearly half of the American Indian population in South Dakota is uninsured.
"We really just want to be able to get in our community and make sure that our members know about this special provisions and the affordable care act. We want to be able to do the education and the outreach and most important, the enrollment of our people," said Duran.
Kim Gillan, Regional director for the Health and Human Services, says there are a lot of benefits for Native Americans to sign up.
"I really want to encourage people to find out for themselves the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and make an educated decision. Most people will find out that they were able to access health insurance at a very affordable rate," said Gillan. "I think one of the most important things about the Affordable Care Act is that it gives Native Americans families an opportunity to control their own destiny."
Gillan said as of March 1st, more than 6,700 people in South Dakota have enrolled in the marketplace and that number is growing. More than 89% of those who enrolled received financial assistance.
She said there is no deadline to sign up for a member of a federally recognized tribe.
Duran says if you're enrolled in the Indian Health Services (IHS), you can still access the Affordable Care Act. You'll just have additional options.
For questions or additional information, contact the GPTCHB Navigator Program toll free at 1-877-209-1215, Western South Dakota Community Action Agency at 605-348-1460, the Community Health Center of the Black Hills at 605-721-8939 or Regional Health at 605-719-1000. You can also visit the Healthcare.gov website at www.healthcare.gov.