Open enrollment in Medicare is happening now until Dec. 7, which you probably already know based on the increased number of commercials on television. The message was also featured at the 18th Annual Native American Women’s Health Expo held at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center (PIMC) earlier this fall.

PIMC, 4212 N. 16th St., is run by the Indian Health Services, which in turn is under the Health and Human Services Department. Mary L. Smith, principal deputy director of the IHS, came to Phoenix to encourage Native American patients to sign up for Medicare. “We have a number of people who are eligible but not enrolled,” she explained.

Besides Medicare, patients should also look into Part A and Part B, which cover two different areas of medical services. People should also learn about Medicaid benefits. “I want Native people to have the best access to health care available,” added Smith.

Smith oversees a $4.8 billion nationwide health care delivery program that is responsible for providing preventive, curative and community healthcare to 2.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in the country.

Even though the federal government provides some funds for medical care for Native Americans enrolled in a federally recognized tribe, not all medical needs are met. If a patient has insurance or benefits like Medicare and Medicaid, it helps cover the costs.

“Please sign up,” urged Smith. “The extra money we get stays right here at PIMC.” She says the goal is to enroll 1,000 more Native Americans and Alaska Natives in the urban Phoenix area.

To contact the Phoenix Indian Medical Center, call 602-263-1200, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.




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