How To Apply For Harris Health (Gold Card)?
Do you know how to apply for Harris Health (Gold Card)?
If not this article will provide you with easy to follow instructions on applying for the coverage.
Harris Health Financial Assistance Plan is Harris County’s safety net program which provides health coverage for those who are uninsured or simply not able to find affordable coverage.
Harris Health is not free although there is financial assistance for those who qualify.
How To Apply For Harris Health (Gold Card)?
Step 1: Which Harris Health (Gold Card) discount plan do you qualify for?
Before traveling to a Harris Health eligibility center it’s a good idea to find out which Harris Health Discount plan you qualify for.
Harris Health won’t deny anyone services, but the discount plan you receive will depend on whether you live in Harris County, your insurance, number of dependents and monthly household income. Use this Harris Health Eligibility calculator to see which plan you qualify for.
Note: You can receive Harris Health services if you live outside of Harris County although you will be billed 100%.
Harris Health offers 5 different discount plans ranging from Plan Zero to Plan Four.
Typically anyone who is homeless will qualify for Plan Zero. Individuals who qualify for this plan will pay little to nothing for co-payments and prescriptions.
To sign up for Harris Health Plan Zero you must obtain a homeless letter. Homeless Letters can be obtained at shelters like The Beacon, Lord of the Streets and Search Homeless Services Only homeless shelters can provide Homeless Letters and assign clients with Harris Health Plan Zero.
Note: Harris Health defines “homeless” as anyone who does not have a physical address.
Individuals who have a physical address must apply for Harris Health at one of the eligibility centers. Continue reading this article to find a list of each Harris Health and City of Houston eligibility centers.
People on Harris Health discount plans One through Four are required to pay some fees for services. Clinic co-payments can range from $3 for Plan One all the way to a maximum of $95 for Plan Four.
The prices above are merely estimates and prices are subject to change.
Speaking of change, let’s change our focus to the actual Harris Health Application. Continue reading and we’ll discuss how you can download a Harris Health Application.
Step 2: Download a Harris County Gold Card application
If you’re crunched your numbers in the Harris Health Eligibility Calculator and were satisfied the next step is obtaining a Gold Card application.
There are two ways to obtain a Gold Card application:
- If you have access to a printer use this link to print your application.
- If you do not have access to a printer you can pick up a copy at any Harris Health or City of Houston Eligibility Center. Don’t worry we haven’t forgotten about the listing of Eligibility Centers. Those will be revealed to you shortly.
You are encouraged to print two copies of the Gold Card application. Fill out your first copy to the best of your abilities. Demographic information like your name and address should be self-explanatory. For information regarding your income, it’s ok to leave it blank for the moment. If you have questions an eligibility specialist will be able to clear up any confusion.
The second copy is simply a backup plan in the event you make a huge mistake filling out the first form.
Eligibility specialist will help you complete the entire Gold Card application if need be, but the more you complete the smoother the assessment will go.
Again if you need a Gold Card application go here.
Next, we’ll discuss the additional documents needed to apply for Harris Health/Gold Card.
Step 3: Additional Documents Needed For Harris Health (Gold Card)?
Great, you completed your Gold Card application!
Now it’s time to start digging through closets and shoe boxes for those supporting documents.
In addition to the Harris Health application the following documents are required:
- Birth Certificates for dependents
- Proof of residency (bills or other documents)
- Income or paycheck stubs
- If applicable: INS (immigration) documents, Medicaid Letter, Medicare ID, Social Security Award Letter, TANF certification, credit card statements, bank statements
The next six sections will give you specific examples of documents that Harris Health accepts.
Identification is needed for both you and your spouse if you’re married. This would include marriage license or Registration of Informal Marriage if you are common law married. One proof of identity is needed if you possess the following:
- Driver license
- Current state ID
- Employment badge
- US immigration documents
- Foreign consulate ID card
- Agency letter
If you do not have a picture form of ID you must supply two of the following:
- Birth certificate
- Marriage license
- Hospital or birth records
- Adoption paperwork
- Harris County voter card
- Check stub
- Social security card
- Medicaid card
- Medicare care
Proof of address
You must provide a document with your address, your name or spouse’s name.You only need one of the following if the mail is dated within the last 60 days:
- Utility bill
- Mortgage coupon
- Business mail
- School record for children under age 18
- Certification document or benefits check from Social Security Administration or Texas Workforce Commission
- Certification paper from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or SNAP From TF 0001.
- Agency Letter
- Statement from a licensed child care provider
- Harris Health System-Residence Verification Form filled out by a non-related person, not living in your house. Click HERE to download the Harris Health System Residence Verification Form.
- Check stub
- Credit card statement
- Medicaid or Medicare letter
If in the last year any of these documents are acceptable:
- Lease agreement
- Department of motor vehicle record
- Automobile registration
- Property tax document
- Automobile insurance document
- Printout from IRS of most current year’s tax filing
Proof of income
Income for the past 30 days for you, your spouse and children living with you who are over the age of 18 is needed. Here are the acceptable documents:
- Cash income
- Rental property
- Workmen’s compensation
- Current check stubs
- Social security award letter
- Current IRS 1040/1040A tax return (all pages) if self-employed
- Veteran Affairs letter or check
- Unemployment benefit record
- Agency letter
- Income on SNAP from TF 0001
- Harris Health System – Statement of Self-Employment Income Form if no tax return is filed. Click HERE for Harris Health System Self-Employment Income Form.
- Harris Health System – Statement of Wage Verification Form (for cash and personal check wages only). Click HERE for Harris Health Wage Verification Form.
- Harris Health System – Statement of Support Form if no income. Click HERE for Harris Health System Statement of Support Form.
Proof of relation to children
The following document (only one) is needed for any children living with you who depend on you for support:
- Birth certificate
- Proof of full-time school enrollment for students aged 18-26
- US immigration applications with dependent’s names
- Death certificate for previous household members
- School documents or insurance documents showing names of both parent and child
- Birth fact record or hospital armband for infants less than 90 days old
- US Department of Health and Human Services – Office of REgugee Resettlement – Verification or Release Form ((ORR UAC/R-1) for an Unaccompanied alien child.
- Baptismal record
- Social Security award letter with dependent’s names
- Baby’s Popras forms
You must show current or expired documents from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services for you, your spouse or children who depend on you for support.
Health Care Coverage (if applicable)
You must show proof of Medicaid, CHIP, CHIP Perinatal, Medicare, or private health insurance for you, your spouse or children who depend on you for support.
If you have Medicare
Complete the Medicare Asset From. This form shows proof of your current resources (bank statements, credit cards, etc). Download your Medicare Asset Form HERE.
If you’ve obtained each of the necessary documents above well done!
Now it’s time to find a location near you to apply for Harris Health (Gold Card).
Step 4: Finding a place to apply for Harris Health (Gold Card)
In this 4th step, we will talk about the different locations to apply for Gold Card.
Harris Health System is the entity that offers Harris Health (Gold Card). Despite this, you can apply for coverage at two different agencies. One being the aforementioned Harris Health System. The other agency is the City of Houston Health Department.
There is no difference in the coverage you receive applying at either agency. You should, however, note that the process for applying at Harris Health vs. City of Houston is different.
We’ll start with the Harris Health enrollment process first.
Harris Health Eligibility Centers
If you choose to apply for coverage at a Harris Health Eligibility Center you have three options.
1.) You can mail your application and the supporting documents to:
Harris Health Financial Assistance Program
P.O. Box 300488
Houston, TX 77230
2.) The second option is to take your completed application and supporting documents to one of the Harris Health Eligibility Centers below.
3.) The third option is to take your supporting documents to any Eligibility Center and complete a Harris Health (Gold Card) application there. Should you run into trouble completing the applicaiton Harris Health is there to assist you.
Notice Harris Health does not provide eligibility appointments. You must either mail your application or deliver it in person.
While Harris Health does not offer eligibility appointments, they do have an Eligibility Line that you can call at 713.566.6509 for any questions.
**DRUM ROLL** And now that listing of eligibility centers we’ve been promising!
Acres Home Eligibility Center
818 Ringold Street | Houston, TX 77088 – 713.566.6509 | Hours: 7 am – 4 pm M-F, Fourth Thursday of every month, open 7 am – 11 am
Lois J. Moore Eligibility Center
8901-B Boone Road | Houston, TX 77099 – 713.566.6509 | Hours: 7:30 am – 4:30 pm M-F, Fourth Wednesday of every month, open 7:30 am – 2:30 pm
East Mount Houston Eligibility Center
11737 B Eastex Freeway |Houston, TX 77039 – 713.566.6509 |Hours: 8am – 4:30pm M-F, Fourth Friday of every month, open 8am – 3:30pm
Southeast/MLK Eligibility Center
3550 – A Swingle Road | Houston, TX 77047 – 713.566.6509 | Hours: 8 am -4:30 pm M-F, Fourth Thursday of every month, open
Strawberry Eligibility Center
925 Shaw Avenue | Pasadena, TX 77506 – 713.566.6509 | Hours: 7:30 am – 4:30 pm M-F, Third Thursday of every month, open 7:30 am – 3 pm
Again once you have completed your Harris Health (Gold Card) application and obtained all the supporting documents drop it off at the closest Harris Health Eligibility Center or mail it to P.O. Box 300488 Houston, TX 77230.
City of Houston Health Department
If none of the above Harris Health Eligibility Centers are near you another option for enrollment is the City of Houston Health Department.
The City of Houston is partnered with Harris Health, therefore, you can apply for the Gold Card at any COH Multi-Service Center.
There is no difference in the coverage you would receive if you applied at a Harris Health Eligibility Center. The only difference between these two agencies is the enrollment process. Continue reading to learn about the requirements to apply for Harris Health (Gold Card) via COH.
One major difference is unlike Harris Health, City of Houston does not accept walk-in appointments. Instead, you must make an appointment to apply for Harris Health (Gold Card). To do so you must call the COH Health Department’s appointment line at 832.393.5427.
Note: You can also apply for WIC, SNAP and Texas Women’s Health Plan by calling the COH Health Department appointment line.
The appointment specialist will then schedule a date, time and location (Multi-Service Center) for your Harris Health (Gold Card) screening to occur. They will also go over the listing of documents needed for your screening. These are the same documents from Step 3.
You are free to schedule your appointment at any Multi-Service Center. For a listing of the City of Houston Multi-Service Centers see below:
Acres Homes Multi-Service Center
6719 West Montgomery | Houston, TX 77091 | 832.393.4145
Denver Harbor Multi-Service Center
6402 Market Street | Houston, TX 77020 | 832.395.0895
Fifth Ward Multi-Service Center
4014 Market Street | Houston, TX 77020 | 832.393.4200
Hiram Clarke Multi-Service Center
3810 West Fuqua | Houston, TX 77045 | 832.393.4200
Kashmere Multi-Service Center
4802 Lockwood | Houston, TX 77026 | 832.393.5503
Magnolia Multi-Service Center
7037 Capitol Street | Houston, TX 77011 | 832.395.3380
Northeast Multi-Service Center
9720 Spaulding | Houston, TX 77016 | 832.395.0470
Southwest Multi-Service Center
6400 High Star | Houston, TX 77074 | 832.395.9900
Sunnyside Multi-Service Center
9314 Cullen Street | Houston, TX 77051 | 832.395.0069
Third Ward Multi-Service Center
3611 Ennis Street | Houston, TX 77004 | 832.393.4051
West End Multi-Service Center
170 Heights Blvd | Houston, TX 77007 | 832.393.5950
Step 5: Wait for your Harris Health (Gold Card) to be processed
Remember how we said that Harris Health and City of Houston Health Department had different enrollment processes? Well the timeframe to approve your Harris Health (Gold Card) application is also different.
If your application is complete and all the supporting documents were submitted you can expect the following wait times before your application is approved:
City of Houston – It takes City of Houston 24-48 hours to process your Harris Health (Gold Card).
Harris Health (Gold Card) – If you apply via Harris Health expect a 15-30 day wait to be approved. Harris Health receives more applications than City of Houston therefor their wait period is longer.
Note: Thirty days is the standard timeframe it takes for Harris Health (Gold Card) to certify your application although there is a way to speed up the process. If you write on your application that you have an emergency theres the chance that Harris Health will process your application in 15 days. There is no guarantee but it’s worth a try.
Step 6: Using your Harris Health (Gold Card)
HOT DOG, your Harris Health (Gold Card) was approved!
Once you’re Gold Card is approved you can immediately start making medical appointments. Appointments with primary care doctors, specialist, and behavioral health providers are all a phone call away.
To make an appointment to see a medical provider call the Harris Health appointment line at 713.526.4243.
A scheduler will ask for your name, date of birth and if your mailing address has changed. Once your information is confirmed simply ask for a “new patient appointment”. The scheduler will provide you with available appointment dates and locations to choose from. Once you make your selection the scheduler will book your appointment.
Note: You must arrive at any Harris Health appointment 30 minutes early. Failing to do so could result in your appointment being cancelled.
For a listing of Harris Health Clinic locations see the map below.
No matter your income, ability to pay or level of insurance there are medical options for you in Houston. Everything from FQHC clinics to Harris Health System services are available at little to no cost.
Sure enrollment for Harris Health (Gold Card) can be an all-day affair, but the benefits and peace of mind of having good health outweigh the pains of waiting in lines for ONE DAY.
If your last medical checkup was during the Bush Administration make plans to follow up with Harris Health or any other medical provider to get on the path to good health.
Nick Bryant is a Counselor with 10 years of experience working in community health. He enjoys concerts, mocking Dallas Cowboy fans and creating easy to understand community resources on his site HoustonCaseManagers.com. To become a more saucy social worker, hop on his free email list and receive weekly community resource guides delivered directly to your inbox.