Applications for the $500 health benefit card are scheduled to be mailed out by Mutual Assurance Adminstrators, Inc., next month.
“We’re hoping the applications are going to be mailed out in November to allow some time, because the way the law is written it has to work on a calendar year,” said Hepsi Barnett, Osage Nation Chief of Staff. “Mutual Assurance [Administrators] will be mailing those applications prior to January so we can have everything ready to go by January, that’s the goal.”
All Osages, regardless of age, are eligible for the $500 health benefit card as long as they have an Osage Nation membership card, not to be confused with a CDIB card, which is a certificate of degree of Indian blood.
Currently the Osage Nation has 17, 971 active CDIB holders and 11,109 active membership card holders, according to the Nation’s CDIB office. Having a membership card gives a person access to all the benefits the Nation provides such as the $500 health benefit card and Osage Nation scholarships. A CDIB card is issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and states how much Osage blood a person has.
Applications for the health benefit card must be filled out and mailed back to Mutual Assurance Administrators, not the Nation.
Osages that apply for the health benefit will receive a coded debit card that allows payment for all items that the Internal Revenue Service considers tax-deductible medical expenses. The debit card covers most medical expenses except for abortions, which Congress declined to fund.
Some of the items on the IRS-approved list includes eyeglasses, dentures, braces, wheelchairs, alcoholism treatment, insulin treatment, surgery (except cosmetic procedures), hearing aids, medical transportation expenses, prescription costs, some over-the-counter drug costs, vaccines, X-rays, home repair if medically needed and other items. Reimbursement for eligible medical expenses will also be available.
Osages must spend the entire $500 by the end of the calendar year—there is no carryover of unspent funds to the next year. However, Osages can reapply for subsequent years as long as funding is available.
The Osage Nation Congress passed the $5.1 million health benefit plan that will provide Osages everywhere with a $500 medical debit card in the 2008 Tzi-Zho session. Applications will be accepted throughout the calendar year.
For more information about the $500 health benefit card, call Constituent Services at (918) 287-5662. A complete list of medical expenses the card allows and doesn’t allow is below.
To view the list click on the link below:
For more information on how to apply for an Osage Nation membership card visit the Nation’s CDIB Office Web site at www.osagetribe.com/cdib and click on the Welcome to Membership link and it will take you to an application for the membership card. If for some reason the link doesn’t work, all interested applicants can call the CDIB office at (918) 287-5389.