There are many states offering indigent health insurance for low income families and those with children not covered under any other medical policies.  Each state offers different programs and some local government agencies offer programs designed to help out as well.  If you don’t have medical coverage for kids, you might want to look into it.  Nobody should have to choose between taking their child to the doctor or paying the rent.  If you cannot afford it, indigent health insurance might be right for you.

What Does Indigent Mean?

The dictionary definition is:  Lacking food, clothing, and other necessities of life because of poverty.  That isn’t the exact definition used for the government health care insurance though.

There really isn’t a textbook definition for being indigent as it pertains to medical coverage.  Health insurance programs in Texas might differ from those in Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Colorado and have different criteria for acceptance.

For the most part, those that qualify for the government assistance programs are those that earn too little to buy coverage on their own, but in some cases, might make too much to qualify for free health insurance from the government.  It really varies a lot by state, but for the most part, they will all use income guidelines and other criteria to determine eligibility.

Typical Indigent Health Insurance Criteria

As noted, there are likely to be income restrictions, which will be used to determine if you qualify.  For the most part, if you make less than 150% of the poverty level for your geographic area, with dependents taken into consideration, you are likely to qualify for some form of government assistance.

The criteria is always adjusted for geographic location because those living in California, for example, will have a different cost of living when compared to those living in New York, Vermont, or Georgia.  In fact, it’s generally broken down a little further, since areas within the same state will have differing costs of living expenses.  For this reason, it could be broken down by county or even city and not just into regions within the state.

Beyond this, there is generally a requirement which states the child or adult cannot be eligible for other coverage through an employer.  If your employer has health insurance benefits you can your family can use, it could be an automatic disqualification.  Now, some will take into account the cost of the employer benefits, since they might pay very little toward the premium, making it impossible for low income families to afford.  In these cases, there is generally exceptions which can be made.

Those who are self-employed might find it much easier to qualify for government help, since it generally eliminates the normal disqualifier of having employer health coverage benefits.

How to Apply for Indigent Medical Coverage Plans

For the most part, you can apply at your local Health and Human Services, which will likely be located at your county courthouse.  They will be able to steer you in the right directions and help you to apply for assistance. 

Since some programs are offered by other agencies, be sure to ask where else you can look for help with this.  There might be some other places you can search for assistance, depending on what’s setup with you state, county, or city.  Be sure to ask around or you might miss out on the assistance you need to get your kids or yourself to the hospital, with some coverage.

Alternatives to Indigent Health Insurance from the Government

If you simply do not qualify for help, but you cannot afford much, there are some options you might want to keep in mind that can help to either offset the costs, or reduce them greatly.  Take a look at these options to see if any of them work for you.

Super High Deductible:  If you cannot afford the premiums as they are for a typical $1,000 deductible plan, why not check to see what the rates will be with a 5,000 or $10,000 family deductible?  While you will find the out of pocket expense for hospital visits to be substantial, you will at least have some coverage if you suffer a major medical issue or have to be hospitalized for a few days.  You can work out payment plan with the hospital when you’re better.

Public Health:  While you will not be able to get all your needs met at free public health clinics, you can get many routine checkups and some routine tests taken care of, free of charge.  At most public health offices, there isn’t income restrictions, so you can qualify and use them to get your basic needs met, and those of your children.  Many low income families rely on public health for various free medical exams and routine checkups.

Hospitalization Insurance:  Some policies will pay you a set amount for each day you are in the hospital.  While it’s generally not enough to pay off the bills, it is enough to offset what you’re not earning at work, so you can work out a payment plan with the medical provider.  It’s worth checking out.

Discount Plans:  Some prescription discount plans are worthless, but other can and do make a sizeable difference in the out of pocket expenses patients face.  Find out what’s available and see if it’s worth joining them.  Most are very cheap and some don’t cost anything, assuming you use specific hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies.

Switching Jobs:  As a last resort, if you’re working at a job without benefits or with very poor benefits, you might be better off switching where you work.  While it doesn’t help out with health insurance for the unemployed, it does help out with those that are gainfully employed, but just not making enough to afford coverage.

Kids Only:  If you don’t qualify for assistance, your kids still might.  Many children are on Medicaid and other programs that are designed to ensure children get their medical needs met.  You might be able to get your kids on indigent health insurance programs if you look around.