The Indian Health Services or IHS for short is an operation division under the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
The Indian Health Services oversees providing public health services and direct medical services to those individuals who are a part of the federally recognized Alaska Native and Native American Tribes.
The Indian Health Services is the main federal health care provider alongside the health care advocate for all Indian people.
The Indian Health Services is in 36 states and works with nearly 2.2 out of the 3.7 million Alaska Natives and American Indians.
In April of 2017, the Indian Health Services had 59 health centers, 26 hospitals, along with 32 health stations. Nearly thirty-three Indian health projects will use one of these facilities to supplement their own referral and health services. There are even a few tribes that are actively involved alongside the Indian Health Services. Even many of the tribes will operate using their own health systems that are not in correlation with the Indian Health Service.
Indian Health Service Mission & Formation
The relationship between the government and the federally recognized tribes was officially established back in 1787. This relationship can be in the Constitution on Article I, Section 8. The passage says that relationship has substance from the laws, treaties, executive orders, and supreme court decisions.
It really was not until the early 1800s, when the health services were provided to the Alaska Natives and American Indian tribes through the Department of War. Then the Office of Indian Affairs came on the scene and took over this hefty mission.
This is when the mission changed to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare’s Public Health Service later in 1955. This was when the birth of Indian Health Service came to be.
These were the top three original priorities of the Indian Health Service:
- Have a competent health staff
- Have extensive, yet effective treatment plans for those who are seriously ill
- Have a full-scale prevention program
The Indian Health Services employs nearly 300 dentists, 2,650 nurses, 100 physician assistants, 700 pharmacists, alongside a few other health professionals such as the following:
- Environmental Sanitationists
- Child Health Specialists
- Registered Medical-Record Administrators
- Community Health Representative aide
This is one of the two federal agencies that is mandated to hire those with Indian preference. This law will require the agency to give those who are Indian preference over those who are non-Indian for employment.
The Indian Health Services attracts a huge number of employees from the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. The United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is a non-armed service in the United States.
The Indian Health Service has professional commissioned corps such as their nurses, physicians, dentists, physician assistants, engineers, environmental health officers, engineers, dietitians, and pharmacists.
Many of the jobs in the Indian Health Services are going to be in remote areas. The headquarters for the Indian Health Services is based in Rockville, Maryland.
Benefits & Services in Nevada
The Indian Health Service will provide a few health services in both inpatient and outpatient settings along with the added benefits of dental, pharmacy, immunizations, behavioral health, physical rehabilitation, optometry, and pediatrics.
The extensive version of the list will be located on the Indian Health Service official website. You should contact your local Indian Health Service facility to confirm what services they provide and what services they do not because all services and benefits will vary from location to location.
For you to qualify for these services and benefits from the Indian Health Service, you first and foremost must be a part of the Alaska Native Descent or the American Indian tribe.
You will need to supply evidence that you are indeed a part of the Indian community that is serviced by the Indian Health Service.
If you are unsure if you are a part of one of the federally recognized tribes, you can find out by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
However, if you are non-Indian, but you have a child with an Indian, or you are married to an Indian, you can also receive these health services and benefits. You can find out the policy in your Indian Health Service Indian Health Manual.
To apply for your benefits through the Indian Health Services, you must enroll in the patient registration office, which you can find in your nearest Indian Health Service facility. You will need to have your proof of membership for your federally recognized tribe that you belong to.
Purchased/Referred Care Vs Direct Care
Direct care is the dental and medical care that Alaska Natives along with the American Indians will get at the Indian Health Services facility. So, if the patient is referred to a non-tribal medical facility, they will have the option where they can request coverage through the Indian Health Service purchased or referred care program.
This is due to limited funds from the United States Congress, which referrals through the purchased or referred program is not always guaranteed coverage. Even the authorization of these visits will solely be determined on a few factors, which include the following:
- Funding Availability
- Medical Priority
- Alaska Native or American Indian Tribal Affiliation
Indian Health Service National Core Formulary
First and foremost, the Indian Health Service National Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee consists of the clinical professionals and administrative leaders, which include physicians and pharmacists alike, who oversee regulating the Indian Health Service National Core Formulary.