The medical card enables low-income or zero-income families to receive the health care they need through government programs. Each region has different income qualifications, but the card does enable recipients to get the health care necessary for day-to-day life.
A medical card can have plenty of benefits for a low-income family. A medical card provides health care and prescriptions at no cost or at low co-payments. The card also can help pay for most emergency room visits, although there could be co-payments required, based on the type of program that you have enrolled in. For families who do not have any health care insurance, are without jobs, or especially young single mothers, the medical card enables them to afford medical care that they may not have been able to pay for themselves. The medical card is also available to immigrants who come to the United States to work, but they must present their green card or a work visa to show their legal status within the states.
Families who have little or no income should contact their area Human Service or Community Action agencies to find out how to apply for a medical card in their county. All areas have different requirements that allow individuals and families to become eligible for the medical card. Most of the programs are based on the amount of income that a family or individual has. Those who wish to apply should contact their Human Services or Community Action agencies and bring proof of their monthly income, and even medical bills within at least the past six months (if applicable). All family members and individuals will need copies of their Social Security cards, as well. Those who are applying should also be ready to present any bank statements, such as savings or checking, to show proof of any assets that they may have.
Each state has its own requirements to sign up for a medical card. The income brackets will differ from region to region based on cost of living. You will need to seek a local health facility or human services agency to find out if you could possibly qualify for a medical card. The United States Department of Health offers information about the medical card and Medicaid program. (see Resources).
The medical card is a solution for low-income families to help their children receive checkups, school physicals or immunizations. It also helps young, single pregnant mothers receive the prenatal care necessary to give birth to healthy babies. Those who are disabled or are receiving Social Security benefits can get a discount on needed prescriptions. Without these benefits, many wouldn't be able to receive necessary medical care.
Most medical cards can be used for up to one year. Families and individuals must reapply every year to see whether they are still eligible to receive benefits. Those who hold medical cards should keep copies of any income received throughout the year, and any statements that they have received from their doctors in the mail. Should there be any change in income levels, individuals should notify the service provider of their medical cards.
- Kaiser Family Foundation. "New Kaiser/New York Times Survey Finds One in Five Working-Age Americans With Health Insurance Report Problems Paying Medical Bills," Accessed Oct. 9, 2019.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What Do I Need to Know If I’m Thinking About Consolidating My Credit Card Debt?" Accessed Oct. 9, 2019.
- Medicaid.gov. "Eligibility," Accessed Oct. 9, 2019.
Ariana Cherry-Shearer began writing for the Web in 2006. Cherry-Shearer's work has appeared at websites such as GardenGuides, GolfLink and Trails. She also writes a weekly blog and has published collections of poetry. Cherry-Shearer earned a certificate in computer applications from Lakeland Community College.