Harris Health System: 33 Common Questions About The Harris Health Gold Card

harris health system

Contents

Harris Health System: 33 Common Questions About Harris Health Gold Card


Working in community health for the past 11 years I have answered lots of questions regarding different Houston community resources.
 
While I do not work for the Harris Health System, questions about this healthcare provider (and its Gold Card coverage) seem to be the most common for individuals that I have worked with and it’s for a good reason… 
 
The Harris Health System is a healthcare network that offers medical coverage to Harris county residents who are considered low-income, homeless, recently laid off, or do not qualify for Medicaid. 
 
For someone who does not work in community health, navigating the Harris Health System can seem intimidating, however, in this guide, I will do my best to answer 33 common questions that you may have about this Houston healthcare network.  If at any point an answer is not detailed enough or you have a follow-up question feel free to leave a comment at the end of this article and I will answer it as soon as possible. 
 
There is a lot to learn about the Harris Health System so let’s dive in! 
 
Editor’s note: This is general listing of questions and answers that is meant to give you a basic understanding of how the Harris Health System works. I do not work for Harris Health therefore some questions you will want to verify with them directly and you can do this by calling their eligibility line at 713.566.6509.  You can ask any question you like in the comment section at the end of this article, however, if there is a question that I cannot answer or I am uncertain of I will refer you to the Harris Health eligibility line for clarification. 
 

What is the Harris Health System?  

Harris Health System (formerly Harris County Hospital District) is a safety-net healthcare system for Houston, TX, and other cities inside of Harris County. The Harris Health System network of healthcare centers, specialty clinics, and hospitals provide medical care to Harris County residents who are considered low-income or do not qualify for other health insurance plans like Medicaid. 

One of the reasons that the Harris Health System is so popular in the Houston area is due to a health coverage called the Gold Card

What is the Harris Health Gold Card?  

The Gold Card is a form of health coverage which is offered by the Harris Health System. Despite Harris Health changing the name from Gold Card to the Financial Assistance Plan, many Harris County residents still refer to this coverage as Gold Card. 

Individuals in Harris County who are considered to be low-income or uninsured can potentially qualify for the Gold Card. 

What is the Harris Health Financial Assistance Plan? 

The Financial Assistance Plan is the official name for the Gold Card coverage. The Gold Card is more of a slang term that local residents continue to use. 

Any documents that you receive from Harris Health will refer to your coverage as the Financial Assistance Plan, although many Harris County residents still refer to this coverage as the Gold Card. 

Long story short, there is no difference in coverage between the Financial Assistance Plan and the Gold Card, just a new name vs. an old name. 

What does the Harris Health  Gold Card cover?

The Harris Health Gold Card will cover the following medical services: 
 
  • Primary care
  • Counseling 
  • Psychiatry
  • Specialty care clinics
  • Cancer care
  • Cardiology
  • Geriatric Medicine
  • HIV/AIDS care
  • Low cost dialysis in Houston
  • Stroke and trauma care
  • Immunizations
  • Prenatal care for women and infants 
  • Pharmacy services
  • Hospital services at Ben Taub and LBJ

Those with the Gold Card will have access to these services via Harris Health health centers, specialty clinics, and hospitals.  

What are the Gold Card requirements?  

The Gold Card requirements are: 
  1. You must live in Harris County
  2. For the discounted services you must be considered low-income, meaning your household income is below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines

If your household income exceeds 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines you can still receive medical treatment through the Harris Health System, however, you will not qualify for discounted medical services (Financial Assistance Plan). 

Who is eligible for the Harris Health System Gold Card? 

You must live in Harris County to be eligible for the Gold Card. You can use the “What County Am I In?” tool to determine that you live in Harris County.  

Qualifying for the Gold Card means you are eligible for the Harris Health System’s Financial Assistance Program. This program will help you with the cost of co-payments, prescriptions, and other medical bills at Harris Health clinics.

In addition, the Gold Card is provided to individuals who are considered to be low-income. The criteria for low-income is falling under 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. If your income is above 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines you will be considered a “self-pay” resident and not eligible for the Financial Assistance Program.

Again eligibility for the Gold Card is limited to only those individuals who live in Harris County. If you live in a surrounding county simply contact your city’s health department and ask them what is the name of the “safety-net healthcare program” in your area that treats the uninsured. 

 

What are the rules for Gold Card eligibility? 

You must live in Harris County to be eligible for the Gold Card. You can use the “What County Am I In?” tool to type in your address if you live on the border of Harris County.

Qualifying for the Gold Card means you are eligible for the Harris Health System’s Financial Assistance Program. This program will help you with the cost of co-payments, prescriptions and other medical bills at Harris Health clinics.

In addition, the Gold Card is provided to individuals who are considered to be low-income. The criteria for low-income is falling under 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. If your income is above 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines you will be considered a “self-pay” resident and not eligible for the Financial Assistance Program.
 

What does HCHD Self-pay mean

Self-pay means you will be paying for Harris Health services yourself.  Your income is above 150% of Federal Poverty Guidelines therefore you do not qualify for the Gold Card and you have no third-party health insurance like Medicaid or a private plan. 

 

How do I apply for the Harris Health Gold Card?  

To apply for the Harris Health Gold Card you will need to complete a Gold Card application, provide the supporting documents.
 
You can then apply for coverage by:
 
  1. Mailing your application
  2. Faxing it to Harris Health 
  3. Dropping your application off at a Harris Health eligibility center
We have a guide titled How To Apply for the Harris Health Gold Card that will walk you through each step of this process. 

 

What documents are needed for Gold Card?

To apply for Harris Health System coverage you will need to complete and submit a Gold Card application. 
 
In addition, you will need to provide the following supporting documents: 
  • Identification for you and your spouse
  • Birth Certificates for dependents
  • Proof of residency (bills or other documents)
  • Proof of income (pay stubs, SSI award letter, unemployment, etc) 
  • If you are not working a Statement of Support Form will suffice
  • If applicable: INS (immigration) documents, Medicaid Letter, Medicare ID, Social Security Award Letter, TANF certification, credit card statements, bank statements

The Harris Health System website will provide you with a complete listing of supporting documents needed for Gold Card

 

Where can I find a Harris Health eligibility center? 

There are 4 Harris Health eligibility centers in the area that you can apply for Gold Card at. Those eligibility centers are: 
 
  • Acres Home Health Center – 818 Ringold St., Houston, TX 77088
  • MLK Health Center – 3550-A Swingle Road, Houston, TX 77047
  • El Franco Lee Health Center – 8901 Boone Road, Houston, TX 77099
  • Strawberry Health Center – 927 Shaw Ave, Pasadena, TX 77506

If these Gold Card eligibility centers are open Monday through Friday, however, the times may vary so you are encouraged to call the eligibility line at 713.566.6509 to confirm their hours of operation. 

Where can I go to apply for a Gold Card? 

You can apply for a Gold Card at any Harris Health eligibility center. Below is a map of the eligibility centers that you can apply at. 
 

Below is a listing of the Harris Health eligibility centers where you can apply for Gold Card. 

  • Acres Home Health Center – 818 Ringold St., Houston, TX 77088
  • MLK Health Center – 3550-A Swingle Road, Houston, TX 77047
  • El Franco Lee Health Center – 8901 Boone Road, Houston, TX 77099
  • Strawberry Health Center – 927 Shaw Ave, Pasadena, TX 77506
In addition, you can also apply by completing a Gold Card application and mailing or faxing it to the Harris Health System. 

How do I download a Harris Health Gold Card application? 

You can download a Harris Health Gold Card application by using the links below. The Gold Card application comes in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. 

Once you have completed your Gold Card application (and supporting documents) you will need to either mail it, fax it, or drop it off at one of the Harris Health eligibility centers. 

 

How can I download a Harris Health Gold Card renewal form? 

The Harris Health Gold Card renewal form is the exact same form as you initially used to apply.  To continue your coverage you can use one of the links below to download your Gold Card renewal form: 

Once you have completed your Harris Health Gold Card renewal form (and supporting documents) you will need to either mail it, fax it, or drop it off at one of the Harris Health eligibility centers. 

For more information on this process see our guided title How To Renew Your Harris Health Gold Card

How do I apply for an emergency Gold Card? 

To apply for an emergency Gold Card you will need to complete a Gold Card application and then deliver it to an eligibility center. 
 
To qualify for an expedited Gold Card you must meet the following: 
 
  • You were discharged from the hospital within the past 30 days and need a follow-up appointment
  • Need immediate medical attention
  • You need to reschedule a medical appointment
  • A specialty clinic appointment is required
  • Need to schedule a procedure or visit
  • You need prescriptions filled 

For more information on this process, you can contact the Harris Health eligibility line at 713.566.6509 or read our guide titled Emergency Gold Care: How To Expedite Your Harris Health Application. 

How do I apply for a homeless Gold Card?  

You can only apply for a homeless Gold Card by visiting one of the Houston homeless shelters below: 

  • The Beacon – 1212 Prairie St, Houston, TX 77002 – 713.220.9737
  • Lord of the Streets – 3401 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77004 – 713.523.0311
  • Search – 2015 Congress St, Houston, TX 77002 – 713.739.7752

To learn more about this coverage see this entry regarding Gold Card Enrollment For Homeless Individuals

Can undocumented immigrants apply for the Harris Health Gold Card? 

To apply you must be able to provide documents or IDs from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Examples of documents that are potentially acceptable are: 

You will most likely need official documents or an ID from the U.S. to receive the Gold Card, you are entitled to emergency medical treatment in Harris Health System hospitals like Ben Taub and LBJ.  A federal law called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act or EMTALA mandates that hospitals at least screen you to see if emergency medical care is necessary and if so these hospitals will treat you. 

For questions about acceptable documents you are encouraged to call the Harris Health System eligibility line at 713.566.6509. If you are told that you will not qualify for the Gold Card an alternative is seeking treatment through a low cost medical clinic in Houston.  These Houston clinics receive federal funds to treat the communities they are in and this includes immigrants and undocumented citizens. 

Are medical services through Harris Health System free?  

The cost of Harris Health System operates on a “sliding scale” meaning you pay according to your monthly household income and family size. The lower your household income, the less you will pay for medical services.  Below is a Harris Health System pay scale that you can use to estimate the cost of services according to your monthly income. 

If you make between $0 to $1595 per month below are the potential costs that you would pay at Harris Health clinic.  

 
Service Cost
Visit to primary care doctor $3
Lab or x-ray service $3
Prescription costs (will vary with Medicare coverage)
  • 1 to 30 days = $8
  • 31 to 60 days = $16
  • 61 to 90 days = $24
  • $10 for medicines on the 90-day list
Dental visit $8
Dentures Price based on payment scale
Emergency room visit  $25
Day surgery  $25
Inpatient stay  $50

If you make $1596 or more per month these are the prices you will likely pay for Harris Health services.

Service Cost 
Visit to primary care doctor $95
Lab or x-ray service $95
Prescription costs (will vary with Medicare coverage)  Must pay full amount before picking up medications. Medicare or private health insurance will impact the cost of prescriptions
Dentures Operates on payment scale
Emergency room visit $150
Day surgery  $2,500
Inpatient stay  2,500

 

Where can I use the Harris Health Gold Card? 

You can only use your Gold Card at Harris Health System health centers, specialty clinics, and hospitals. Below is a map of each Harris Health facility that accepts the Gold Card.

 

What is the Harris Health System phone number?  

The Harris Health phone number is 713.566.6509. You can learn more about eligibility, what supporting documents are needed, and even have a Gold Card mailed to your address by calling this Harris Health number. 
 
If you already have the Gold Card and need to schedule a clinic appointment you can call the Harris Health System patient appointment line at 713.526.4243.
 

What is the Ben Taub hospital phone number? 

 
The Ben Taub Hospital phone number is 713.873.2000
 
Ben Taub is one of 2 Harris Health System general hospitals in Houston. LBJ is another hospital within the Harris Health network. 
 

Does Ben Taub accept the Gold Card?

 
Ben Taub Hospital is apart of the Harris Health System network therefore the gold Card is accepted at this hospital.  The Gold Card will not cover medical services at other Houston hospitals like Methodist, Memorial Hermann, St. Luke’s, etc. 
 

What is the LBJ hospital phone number ?

 
The LBJ hospital phone number is 713.566.5100
 
LBJ Hospital is one of 2 Harris Health System general hospitals in Houston.  Ben Taub is another hospital within the Harris Health network. 
 

Does LBJ accept the Gold Card? 

 
LBJ Hospital is apart of the Harris Health System network therefore the gold Card is accepted at this hospital.  The Gold Card will not cover medical services at other Houston hospitals like Methodist, Memorial Hermann, St. Luke’s, etc. 
 
 

What is the number to the Harris Health pharmacy refill line? 

Below are the numbers to each Harris Health clinic’s pharmacy refill line: 

  • Acres Home -713-842-4310
  • Aldine Clinic pharmacy refill line – 713-842-4314
  • Baytown Harris Health pharmacy refill line  -713-842-4321
  • Casa De Amigos pharmacy refill line – 713-842-4312
  • El Franco Lee Clinic pharmacy refill line -713-842-4326
  • Gulfgate Clinic pharmacy refill line- 713-842-4319
  • LBJ Hospital pharmacy refill line – 713-842-4322
  • Swingle Clinic pharmacy refill line -713-842-4316
  • Northwest pharmacy refill line – 713-842-4324
  • Settegast pharmacy refill line – 713-842-4320
  • Smith Clinic pharmacy refill line – 713-842-4328
  • Squatty Lyons pharmacy refill line – 713-842-4323
  • Strawberry Clinic pharmacy refill line – 713-842-4325
  • Thomas Street pharmacy refill line – 713-842-4315
  • Vallbona pharmacy refill line- 713-842-4313
 

What Harris Health dental services are covered?

The following dental services are covered by the Harris Health Gold Card: 
  • Regular exams
  • Cleanings
  • Fillings
  • Extractions
  • Full and partial dentures
 

What is the Harris Health Thomas Street Clinic? 

The Thomas Street Clinic is a Houston HIV/AIDS clinic that is apart of the Harris Health System. 
 
Client’s here receive primary care, specialty care, pharmacy services, mental health help, and more. 

 
 
Thomas Street Clinic is located in the North Central neighborhood and the address is 2015 Thomas Street, Houston, TX 77009. You can contact them by calling 713.873.4000
 

How do I make a Harris Health appointment? 

You can make a Harris Health appointment by calling their appointment line at 713.526.4243
 
An operator will ask you your name and date of birth to find you in their system and then assist you with scheduling a medical appointment at a Harris Health System facility. 
 

Can I use the Harris Health System Gold Card at Houston hospitals like Methodist or Memorial Hermann? 

No, you cannot use the Gold Card at these hospitals. The Gold Card is only accepted at Harris Health clinics and hospitals. Below you will find a listing of the clinics and hospitals where the Gold Card is accepted. 
 
 
Just to clarify, the Harris Health Gold Card is only accepted at Harris Health System clinics. The Gold Card will not cover medical bills at private hospitals in the area or facilities outside of Harris County. 

Will the Gold Card cover my old hospital bills? 

No, the Gold Card will not cover outstanding hospital bills. The only potential exception would be a medical bill from a Harris Health hospital like Ben Taub or LBJ. 
 
If you need help paying for hospital bills two better options are applying for Medicaid Retroactive Coverage or checking to see if your hospital accepts funds from the Hill Burton Act
 

What is the Harris Health Smith Clinic? 

Smith Clinic is a specialty clinic that is located in the Houston medical center. This clinic offers services like ultrasounds, MRIs, and more. 
 
In addition, Smith clinic also specializes in the following fields of medicine: 
 
  • Oncology
  • Allergy
  • Asthma
  • Dermatology
  • Diabetes and Endocrinology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Genetics
  • Gynecology
  • Hematology
  • Infectious Disease
  • Infusion Center
  • Neurology
  • PICC Line Clinic
  • Pulmonary
  • Renal/Nephrology
  • Rheumatology
  • Tropical Medicine
  • Lab services

The Harris Health Smith Clinic is located in the Texas Medical Center at 2525-A Holly Hall, Houston, TX 77054. You can call them at 713.566.3600 for more information. 

 

Does the Gold Card cover dialysis? 

The Gold Card does cover dialysis treatment at Harris Health’s Riverside Dialysis Center
 
This Houston dialysis clinic is centrally located in the 3rd Ward neighborhood. The address is 3315 Delano St, Houston, TX 77004. The phone number to the clinic is 713.566.3900
 
 
Dialysis is an expensive treatment, which is why in almost every situation you will need health insurance for coverage. If you are uninsured and need dialysis treatment in Houston, consider applying for the Gold Card to receive help with treatment.  
 
 

Does Harris Health System have same day clinics? 

Harris Health System offers 5 same-day clinics in Houston. Those clinics are:

  • Margo Hillard Alford Clinic (near LBJ in north Houston) – 5550 Kelly Street, Houston, TX 77026
  • Monroe Clinic (Monroe and Gulf Freeway, South Houston)– 8539 Gulf Freeway, Houston, TX 77017
  • Robindell Clinic (Chimney Rock and Bellaire, SW Houston) – 5420 Dashwood, Suite 200, Houston, TX 77081
  • Sareen Clinic at India House (West Bellfort and 59, SW Houston) – 8888 W. Bellfort Ave, Houston, TX 77031
  • Sunset Heights Clinic (Airline and Cavalcade, The Heights) – 1623 Airline Dr, Suite 100-B, Houston, TX 77009
To learn more about the services offered at these locations see our guided title 5 Harris Health Same Day Clinics That Accept Walk In Visits
 

Conclusion

I completely understand how frustrating it can be to navigate our healthcare system.  There is paperwork, intake forms, eligibility requirements, some workers aren’t so nice, and the list goes on. 

That being said the more effort you put in to educate yourself about healthcare and the medical services you are entitled to will definitely help to ease some of that frustration. 

Hopefully, this question and answer guide about the Harris Health System has cleared up any questions that you may have had regarding their process. As I told you earlier if you still have questions you can leave them in the comment section below. For any questions that I am not qualified to answer, I will refer you to the Harris Health eligibility line (713.566.6509).  

If you want to learn more about the Harris Health System and the medical services they offer visit the Harris Health website for more information. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *