What Is the Indian Health Service?

The Indian Health Service (IHS) is a federal agency within the Department of Health and Human Services that provides comprehensive health care services to nearly 2 million American Indian/ Alaskan Natives. The IHS is an integrated national health care delivery system consisting of 35 hospitals, over 300 health centers, and approximately 1,000 physicians across the country.

The IHS is the most prominent provider of health care services to the AI/AN population. It faces several challenges, including:

  • Delivering care in remote areas of the country
  • Limited availability of specialty services
  • Historical underfunding compared to other federal health care programs
  • Difficulty recruiting health professionals, with a nearly 20% vacancy rate among physicians.

The former Director of the IHS was Dr. Yvette Roubideaux. Dr. Roubideaux completed a residency program in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 1992.