As a safety-net healthcare provider for the residents of Harris County, Harris Health System is mission-driven to provide medical care to those most in need. Regardless of economic status, Harris Health is here for all residents providing high-quality trauma and emergency care, as well as specialized care in cardiology, stroke and neonatology. Additionally, the system is nationally recognized for its wellness, prevention and disease management for diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

Accessing its services is simple and affordable for all. Harris Health accepts all forms of insurance and payments, and offers Harris County residents most in need with discounted or reduced cost medical care through its Financial Assistance Program. The program is not an insurance plan and is free and easy to apply.

“Our mission is to improve our community’s health by delivering high-quality care to the residents of Harris County,” said Pollie Martinez, vice president of patient access at Harris Health.

Annually, approximately 224,000 Harris County residents apply for financial assistance.

“The program includes care at more than 30 freestanding health centers, clinics and specialty facilities throughout Harris County, as well as our two hospitals, Ben Taub and Lyndon B. Johnson,” said Veronica Patricio, director of operations for patient eligibility at Harris Health. “The goal is to ensure every resident of Harris County has access to affordable care.”

What is the Financial Assistance Program (FAP) and how does it work?

The Financial Assistance Program (FAP) helps Harris County residents pay for preventive and acute healthcare including prescription medications. When applying, Harris Health automatically checks to see if an applicant is eligible for Medicaid, grants or other social service programs. Once approved, a patient

can receive services across Harris Health’s vast network of facilities.

“Applying for the Financial Assistance Program is like applying for various programs in one application,” Patricio said. “We encourage everyone to apply.”

FAP applies to all comprehensive healthcare, from preventive care like annual physical exams, vaccinations, and cancer screenings, to acute care for treatment of broken bones, chronic disease care for diabetes and kidney dialysis. It also applies to prescription medications like insulin or blood pressure medicines.

How do I apply?

Applying is simple and can be done by smartphone, tablet or desktop. The site is available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. Submitting documents is simple using camera images or file uploads to confirm eligibility.

“Applying online is the best way,” Patricio said. “The online application process is very user-friendly.”

If not comfortable applying online, individuals can mail in applications and supporting documents or drop them off at a Harris Health authorized location. The application is free and applying never requires a payment.

“Anybody who is asked to pay for the completion of an application, should not pay,” Martinez said. “Instead, please report these individuals or services to Harris Health.”

What happens after you apply?

Harris Health sends applicants a packet in the mail within 14 days notifying them of their eligibility and financial obligations. If approved, the packet will include a list of co-pays and instructions on scheduling

medical appointments. A patient’s FAP status is good for a year with reconfirmation of FAP status done annually.

“We give patients plenty of opportunities to renew,” Martinez said. “Renewing is easier, too, because patients only need to provide proof of income eligibility rather than all the documents initially required.”

FAP is not insurance coverage, and no card is needed to receive Harris Health services. In fact, there is no such thing as a ‘Gold Card’ program at Harris Health. The financial assistance program was previously called Gold Card because of a gold-colored plastic identification card given to Harris Health patients.

Harris Health stopped issuing identification cards years ago. It now uses biometric palm scanning devices to help with identification of patients. When approved, program participants are entered into Harris Health’s electronic medical system and its biometric palm scanning identification system. A photo ID or other approved identification method is required to initiate the identification process and receive services. Once established in the system, a patient will only require confirmation information and a biometric palm scan to access his or her corresponding medical records. The scanning system is only used at Harris Health. No documents or identification records are shared with outside agencies.

For more information on the Harris Health’s Financial Assistance Program and the services at Harris Health, visit

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