Emergency Gold Card: How To Expedite Your Harris Health Application

emergency gold card

Emergency Gold Card: How To Expedite Your Harris Health Application

If you have a medical need that simply cannot wait and you must see a doctor soon an emergency Gold Card may help your situation. 

The Gold Card is a form of health coverage offered by Harris Health System. This plan helps low-income families in Houston who are uninsured, between jobs or even homeless. 

In this article, I will explain how you can expedite your Harris Health application so that you are able to have your medical treatment covered by Gold Card. 

Editor’s note: The Gold Card will only cover medical services provided at Harris Health clinics and hospitals. It will not cover medical bills from Houston hospitals like Methodist, Memorial Hermann, St. Luke’s, etc. 

Qualifications To Receive An Emergency Gold Card

In order to fast-track your Gold Card application you will need to meet one of the following eligibility requirements:

  • You were discharged from either Ben Taub or LBJ Hospital within the past 30 days and need a follow-up appointment with a Harris Health System doctor
  • Someone who has a surgery scheduled at a Harris Health hospital 
  • A patient that needs to schedule/reschedule a doctor’s appointment or surgery. 
  • If you need prescriptions filled that a Harris Health medical staff member wrote

If any of the above fit your current situation then you could qualify for an emergency Gold Card. To confirm that you qualify you will need to call the Harris Health Eligibility line at 713.566.6509

Below is a listing of situations that will qualify you for an expedited Harris Health Gold Card. 

emergency harris health gold card
This is a screenshot from the Harris Health System website that talks more about how to get an emergency Gold Card in Houston Texas.

Applying For the Expedited Gold Card

To apply for an emergency Gold Card, you will need to visit one of the Gold Card eligibility centers. You can either print an application and take it with you or get an application from the eligibility center. 

You can obtain a Gold Card application by downloading it (English application, Spanish application) or by visiting one of 4 Harris Health eligibility centers listed below:

  • Acres Homes Clinic – 818 Ringold St, Houston, TX 77088
  • MLK Eligibility Center – 3550-A Swingle Road, Houston, TX 77047
  • El Franco Lee Clinic – 8901 Boone Road, Houston, TX 77099
  • Strawberry Clinic – 927 Shaw Ave, Pasadena, TX 77506

You will need to deliver your expedited Gold Card application to one of the Harris Health eligibility centers above. These centers are typically open Monday through Friday with varying hours for each location. 

When delivering your documents be sure to let them know at the eligibility center that you are submitting your Gold Card application and requesting that they “fast track” that application because you have an emergency medical need. 

Additional Documents Needed to Apply for Gold Card 

In addition to completing the application, you need need to supply supporting Harris Health documents like your ID, proof of address, proof of income, children’s birth certificates, citizenship paperwork, and proof of any health coverage you already have.  

If You Have a Medical Emergency…

You should contact 911 or visit your local emergency room right away. 

If you visit a private hospital like Methodist, Memorial Hermann, St. Luke’s, etc, they will probably not help you apply for Gold Card. Harris Health hospitals on the other hand may help you apply.  Ben Taub and LBJ are both in the Harris Health System network therefore you will likely receive help applying for the Gold Card if you are admitted to one of the hospitals and need a procedure performed. 

Find More Gold Card-Related Resources

Use the search box below to find more resources related to the Harris Health Gold Card.

Type the following terms to find more resources related to Gold Card coverage: 

  • Gold Card
  • Renew Gold Card
  • Harris Health Eligibility Centers
  • Harris Health System
  • Ben Taub
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 Essentially the emergency Gold Card is available to individuals who need to apply for Harris Health System coverage and:

  • Were recently discharged from a Harris Health hospital and need a follow-up appointment with a Harris Health doctor
  • Individuals who have a surgery scheduled at Ben Taub or LBJ hospital
  • Patients who need a prescription filled that was written by a Harris Health medical staff member

These are not the only situations that will qualify you for an expedited Gold Card. You can find a complete list of qualifying events on the Harris Health patient eligibility webpage

To ensure that you qualify, review the listing above and also contact the Harris Health eligibility line at 713.566.6509 to learn more about the emergency Gold Card. 

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10 thoughts on “Emergency Gold Card: How To Expedite Your Harris Health Application

  1. Rodney Grigsby Reply

    My name is rodney Grigsby I have servere kidney stones I went to er they seen me n told me to follow up with a dr but I have no insurance my problem is getting worse I need to try n get gold card asap thank u in pain 24 7

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Hi Rodney, sorry to hear about the pains. It’s going to be up to the doctor to decide if a situation is an emergency or not, so I would say go again if you are still in intense pain. All hospitals SHOULD treat you regardless of a lack of health insurance if you have an emergent (life threatening or soon to be life threatening) situation. That being said this does not always happen.

      If you didn’t try Ben Taub or LBJ Hospital in the past consider those if you decide to visit the ER again. At Ben Taub and LBJ they can help you apply for the Gold Card, because their hospitals accept Gold Card. Other hospitals like St Lukes or Hermann probably won’t take the time to help you with Gold Card.

      The Nurse Health Line is a 24 hour number that you can call if you have medical questions or concerns. I would encourage you to call them, tell them about your symptoms, and based on that information they will either suggest that you visit an ER or tell you that your symptoms are emergent. You can still visit a hospital, whatever the nurse says is likely how the hospital will prioritize you. The Nurse Health Line is a good number to use if you are on the fence about visiting an ER for treatment. Their number is 713.338.7979.

      If the hospital is unwilling to treat you at the moment, you can find a doctor in the link below. These are low cost clinics in Houston that do not require you to have health insurance.


      These clinics bill you based on a “sliding scale” which simply means the cost of medical treatment will depend on your monthly income. Bottom line is those low cost clinics will find a way to work with you. If you want shoot me your zip code and I’ll send you a listing of low cost clinics on your side of town.

      Lastly, if you are uninsured you will need insurance (even after the kidney stones). Consider calling the City of Houston Client Access Department at 832.393.4984, because they can help you to apply for the Gold Card.

      Hopefully this helps you find a way to get relief my man.


  2. Stacey Vial Reply

    My name is Stacey I am suffering with chronic dental problems leaving me with severe pain in my face and jaw do to broken teeth at the moment I’m unemployed needing immediate help with a gold card but don’t know who to talk to

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Hi Stacey, you can contact the Harris Health System eligibility center. The number should be listed in the conclusion section. They should be able to help you get a Gold Card faster.

      Another option is the City of Houston Dental Department. In some cases they can provide emergency dental services. You can use the link below or call them at 832.393.5427 first thing Monday.


  3. Mrs. Day Reply

    Hi , my name is Mrs. Day, I have medical needs that needs attention. I don’t live in Houston, can I move there with family and apply for the Gold Card, I really need a way to be able to get help in the Rural areas there is not much resources.

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Hi Mrs. Day, hope all is well. So qualifications for Gold Card are:

      1. Must live in Harris County
      2. Must fall under income guidelines. Anyone can go to a Harris Health clinic, but you must be low income to get the discount on services. They have a Harris Health eligibility calculator that you can plug your household size and income to see how much you could pay for services.
      3. Not qualify for Medicaid or Medicare.

      If you can check those boxes you may qualify for the discounted medical plans with Harris Health. You can dial their eligibility center at 713.566.6509 for more info about Harris Health Gold Card qualifications.

      If for some reason you can’t qualify for Harris Health Gold Card, they have lots of federally funded clinics where you don’t need health insurance to get outpatient medical care. Legacy Clinic, Hope Clinic, Avenue 360 are some of the largest federally funded clinics here.

      If you have more questions, let me know I’ll let you know what’s available in Houston.


  4. Anon Reply

    Hi Nick, Does Harris Gold Card automatically open a child support case like Medicaid does with kids?

  5. Marchell Reply

    Hi Nick I need help finding services that will help my sibling immediately. My brother is in Montgomery county 77303 and I am in Houston Tx 77081 however we are both unemployed and homeless so we are open to try and apply for services in either county that is best for his situation. Yesterday my brother was on his bike and ran into a street pole face first on the road which left him with most his teeth knock out and broken bones in his face. WE WENT TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM and they did his cat scan and released him with orders to follow up with a specialist asap. Yet as I said before we are financially challenged. I have been online searching clinics and all have required gold card or some kind of assured payment. How can we get the services he needs especially if it is for specialist appointments?
    Thank yo///

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Hi Marchell, sorry to hear that about you and your brother. Family is important so its good that you are looking out for each other even if times are tough.

      In the long run, its a good idea to get the Gold Card if you are uninsured. It covers a % of your hospital bills if you are taken to Ben Taub or LBJ and they have a large network with the specialist your brother may need. The only bad part is it can take time to apply for Gold Card which you have probably learned.

      If I weren in your situation I would:

      1. Plan to get the Gold Card. If you can get to Houston, homeless shelters here can help you get a “homeless gold card”. It’s much easier, less paperwork, and the fees that you pay are less than applying for Gold Card in an eligibility center.
      2. Visit a clinic called Healthcare for the Homeless if you two are truly homeless. This clinic has provided dentures for the homeless in Houston. They provide good care to the homeless in Houston.
      3. If you cant get to Healthcare for the Homeless Houston (its in downtown), consider federally funded clinics. F Here is a list of those federally funded clinics in Houston. I can’t guarantee that services are free, but they will look at your income and bill you based on a sliding scale. The scale could slide all the way down to $0.

      Those are all options for Houston/Harris County.

      Use this “healthcare clinic finder” to locate the federally funded clinics out there in Montgomery County. Type in your zip code and you will see a list. It looks like there is one clinic called Lone Star Family Health that provides low cost treatment.

      The Montgomery County Hospital District is your version of Gold Card. They are a network of county clinics in and around Conroe. Here is more info:

      Montgomery County Hospital District
      1400 South Loop 336 West, Suite #150
      Conroe, TX 77304
      (936) 523-5114
      https://www.mchd-tx.org/hcap/ (Includes eligibility information and application form.)

      So try the federally funded clinics first because you can get an appointment quicker. But long term be working on getting the Gold Card or go to Montgomery Co Hospital District because they have a larger network of healthcare providers.

      Hope that helps yall, keep your head up my man.


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