Although the last few decades have seen lawmakers and media pundits champion the interests of the have-nots, especially with regard to health care, there is still a sizable population without medical insurance. These struggling consumers are found all over the United States, throughout the state of Texas and, in particular, around Bexar County.
By happy circumstance for locals, the University Health System of San Antonio, Texas extends aid to these needy patients in the form of CareLink. This economic assistance helps suitable individuals and families to afford the hefty expenses of in-patient and out-patient medical care and allied services.
The Uninsured in Bexar County, Texas
Over the past decade, the number of Bexar County residents without the benefit of health insurance peaked in 2014 at 23 percent. More recent measurements show that figure slightly above 19 percent. Of that population, 40 percent of them live at 138 percent of the poverty level, and another 38 percent are at or below the 200 percent of poverty level mark. The rest of those uninsured are ineligible for CareLink provisions.
The fact remains, though, that nearly 80 percent could qualify. The pressing need, therefore, is real and is substantial.
Read More: What Is the Major Purpose of Health Insurance?
Becoming a CareLink Client
The CareLink application (accessed online) is step one in obtaining its benefits. This application helps the administrators to determine whether the applicant and/or household are eligible for its services.
The three principal criteria are as follows. The applicant must be a Bexar County resident for at least one year. Secondly, the petitioner cannot already possess health insurance or corresponding coverage, nor can they qualify for any. Finally, to sustain CareLink income eligibility, combined household income must be less than or equal to 200 percent of the threshold for poverty set by the United States government.
Once conformity to these yardsticks has been established, the applicant is invited in for a CareLink appointment with a representative. The interview is intended to flesh out the CareLink application information. Initial appointments can run from 30 to 60 minutes, while renewal interviews rarely exceed a half hour. Applicants receive a telephone reminder of the appointment 48 hours in advance.
If Accepted, Am I Insured by CareLink?
CareLink is not health insurance. It is akin to a payment plan that is more manageable for low-income and uninsured patients.
To that end, CareLink formulates a maximum household liability for each person or family accepted into the program. This is as high as the patient's balance can reach within any given billing cycle. Those carrying a balance are then billed monthly until it is paid off.
CareLink works out maximum liability and monthly charges according to household income and family size. In addition, CareLink enrollees pay no premiums. So, while this service is not insurance, it allows patients to pay large medical bills in convenient increments that do not break the bank. It also opens up a wide array of medical services that would be otherwise unaffordable.
What Medical Care Is Available under CareLink?
CareLink services must be accessed at one of the University Health System locations. The primary care physician (PCP) is affiliated with the system, and all hospital care is provided at one of its facilities. Thus, it is not available when traveling to or from practitioners outside of University Health.
Within the system, however, patients can receive regular examinations, emergency care, tests, prescription medications and other therapies under the terms of the CareLink contract. At its core, CareLink seeks to connect income-challenged patients with quality health care with an eye to cost.
Adam Luehrs is a writer during the day and a voracious reader at night. He focuses mostly on finance writing and has a passion for real estate, credit card deals, and investing.