How To Apply For Harris Health (Gold Card)

harris health (gold card)

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.

What Is the Gold Card/Harris Health System? 

Table of Contents

The Gold Card is a safety net medical program that treats low-income individuals in Harris County.  

While locals still refer to this program as the “Gold Card” the actual name is the Harris Health Financial Assistance Plan. This service is provided to the community by a local indigent healthcare network called the Harris Health System. This network was formerly known as the Harris County Hospital District. 

What Services Does Gold Card/Harris Health System Offer? 

The Gold Card provides the following services to its Harris Health patients: 

  • Primary care via community-based clinics
  • Same day clinics 
  • Specialty Clinics for cancer care, cardiology, dialysis, stroke, geriatric, HIV/AIDS, and more
  • Dental services
  • Counseling
  • Psychiatry
  • Pharmacy
  • Trauma care in facilities like Ben Taub and LBJ Hospitals

Who Should Apply For Gold Card Insurance? 

Harris County residents who are uninsured, homeless, or recently unemployed are encouraged to apply for the Gold Card. 

Many people believe that if you are uninsured there are no medical care options for you, however, this is false. Harris Health System was created to help those individuals who fall between the cracks. 

Another set of individuals who should consider applying for Harris Health is anyone uninsured who is needing hospitalization or surgery. If you need major medical care the Harris Health System can potentially provide you with this help. 

How To Apply For Harris Health (Gold Card)

Here is a quick summary of how to apply for the Harris Health Gold card. 

  1. Check to see if you qualify for a Gold Card discount plan
  2.  Download the Gold Card application
  3. Gather the supporting documents needed
  4. Find a Harris Health eligibility center
  5. Wait for your Gold Card to be processed
  6.  Begin scheduling medical appointments with your Gold Card by calling the appointment line at 713.526.4243

In the following sections, we will go into more detail about each step. 

harris health gold card

Applying For A Gold Card During The COVID 19 Pandemic

There are two ways to apply for the Gold Card during the COVID 19 pandemic and those are: 

  1. Visit a Harris Health Eligibility Center to pick up an application
  2. You can have an application mailed to you by contacting the Eligibility Information Line at 713.566.6509

The second option may be more preferable if you want to protect yourself from COVID-19 during this time. 

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 eligibility criteria like:

  • Whether you live in Harris County
  • If you currently have insurance
  • Your household size
  • Your household income

To get a better idea of your potential the out of pocket costs for Gold Card 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 at 100%.

Harris Health offers 5 different discount plans ranging from  Plan Zero to Plan Four.

Gold Card Enrollment Process For Homeless Individuals

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. These letters can be obtained at Houston shelters like The Beacon, Lord of the Streets, and Search Homeless Services.  Only shelters can provide Homeless Letters and enroll clients in the Harris Health Plan Zero. 

Note: Harris Health defines “homeless” as anyone who does not have a physical address.

Gold Card Enrollment Process For Those Who Are Not Homeless

Individuals who have a physical address must apply for Harris Health at one of the eligibility centers.

You can follow this link to a list of Harris Health Eligibility Centers. 

People on the Harris Health discount plans 1 – 4 are required to pay some fees for services. Clinic co-payments can range from $3 for Plan 1 all the way to a maximum of  $95 for Plan 4. Keep in mind these prices are estimates and subject to change.

In the following section, we’ll discuss the actual Gold Card application and provide you with a link to download the application. 

Editor’s note: For more options regarding primary care for the homeless see our guide titled 7 options for Homeless Medical Care in Houston

Cost of Harris Health Services

The following prices are estimates to give you a better understanding of what Harris Health services could cost. This information was obtained via the eligibility calculator and based on the following criteria: 

  • Someone living in Harris County
  • They have no Medicare
  • 1 person in the household

Feel free to use the Harris Health eligibility calculator to input your own unique circumstances. 

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

Service Cost
Visit to primary care doctor $3
Lab or x-ray service $3
Prescription costs (will vary 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. Essentially  $1600 per month exceeds the income requirements to qualify for discounted services through the Harris Health System. 

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



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:

  1. If you have access to a printer use this link DOWNLOAD YOUR GOLD CARD APPLICATION
  2. 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. 

You are encouraged to print two copies of the Harris Health Gold Card application form. 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 because this is something an eligibility specialist can help you with. 

Your second copy is simply a backup plan in the event you made a mistake filling out the first form.

While an eligibility specialist can help you complete the entire Gold Card application, the more you can complete on your own faster the process. 

Again if you need an application you can download one HERE.

Harris Health Gold Card Application Online

You can also complete a Harris Health System Gold Card application online by visiting their website. You will need to complete the application online and upload supporting documents like proof of residency, proof of income, supporter statements, and more. 

To apply for the Houston Gold Card online, visit the Harris Health System website to begin completing your application. 

Step 3: Supporting Documents Needed For Harris Health (Gold Card Requirements)

Once you’ve completed your Gold Card application it’s time to start digging through those closets and shoeboxes for your supporting documents.

In addition to completing the Harris Health application you’ll also need to show the following supporting documents:

  • Valid Photo Identification
  • 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 Harris Health System is looking for.


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 your 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 records for children under the age of 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 childcare 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 the 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 certificates for previous household members
  • School documents or insurance documents showing the 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 Refugee 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

Immigration status

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 the Gold Card.

Harris Health System is the entity that offers Harris Health (Gold Card), although you can apply for coverage through two different agencies.

  1. Harris Health System
  2. City of Houston Health Department

Regardless of the agency that helps you to apply, the coverage is the same. The only difference between the two is the enrollment process. 

We’ll start by telling you about the Harris Health enrollment process.

Harris Health System Enrollment Process

If you choose to apply for coverage through the Harris Health Eligibility Center, you have 2 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.

Harris Health does not provide eligibility appointments. If you want help completing an application, you must visit an eligibility center as a walk-in

While Harris Health does not offer eligibility appointments, they do have an Eligibility Line (713.566.6509) that you can call to have any questions answered.

Harris Health System Eligibility Centers

Here is the list of eligibility centers to help you apply for the Gold Card. 

  • 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

The City of Houston is also partnered with Harris Health, therefore, you can apply for the Gold Card at any their Multi-Service Centers.

Note: This might be a good option to consider if you live close to a City of Houston multi-service center

Unlike Harris Health, the City of Houston does not accept walk-in appointments at its multi-service centers. 

To receive help applying for Harris Health (Gold Card), you must call the City of Houston appointment line at  832.393.5427.

Note: You can also apply for WIC, SNAP and Texas Women’s Health Plan by calling the City of Houston Health Department appointment line.

When you call the appointment line, they will schedule a date, time, and location (Multi-Service Center) for your Harris Health (Gold Card) appointment to occur. They will also go over the listing of supporting documents needed for your screening. 

City of Houston Multi-Service Centers

You are free to schedule your Gold Card appointment at any multi-service centers 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: Using your Harris Health (Gold Card) 

Once your Harris Health (Gold Card) is approved, you can use it immediately to make appointments. 

To make an appointment at a Gold Card clinic, you’ll need to 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, ask them 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.

To find the nearest Harris Health center near you, use the map below. 

Harris Health Services Offered to Patients 

Once you qualify for Gold Card you immediately gain access to primary care via Harris Health System. In addition to the routine doctor’s visits, you will also receive Harris Health dental and mental health services. This includes both counseling and psychiatric services. 

Other medical services available to you will be: 

  • Cancer care
  • HIV/AIDS services
  • Cardiology
  • Geriatric care
  • Harris Health pharmacy services
  • Medical care for women and infants
  • A free nurse health line
  • Dialysis for those without insurance (Houston’s Riverside Clinic)

Editor’s note: Some of these services may require a referral from your primary Harris Health doctor. 

How To Apply For An Emergency Gold Card

In some cases, the Harris County Hospital District will process an emergency Gold Card if medical treatment is needed soon. 

The eligibility requirements to have your Gold Card expedited are as follows: 

  • 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 

To apply for an emergency Gold Card is the same as the regular process, where you will need to complete an application and them then mail or drop it off at a Harris Health eligibility center. 

Editor’s note: If you have a true medical emergency skip this process and go directly to the nearest hospital.  If that hospital happens to be Ben Taub or LBJ your hospital social worker may be able to help you with a Gold Card application. These two hospitals are a part of the Harris Health System. 

Gold Card Insurance Renewal

You must complete a Harris Health Gold Card renewal at least every 12 months. If you become eligible for another insurance coverage, you may be required to reapply for the program even sooner. 

To reapply, you will need to complete a Gold Card renewal application. This one is just like the Harris Health Gold Card application that you completed when you applied for Harris Health the very first time. Again you will have to apply for the Gold Card every 12 months, therefore, if you applied in the month of August the next year is when you need to begin reapplying in July to be on the safe side. 


To avoid expensive hospitalizations and chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, you want to take preventative steps like obtaining a doctor. 

The Harris Health System has every medical service you would need. Primary care doctors, specialists, dentists, psychiatrists, and more are available to you when you apply for the Houston Gold Card. 

The Gold Card was created to assist people in Harris County who fall between the cracks. Individuals who are uninsured, underinsured, homeless, have no money, were recently laid off are all encouraged to apply. 

If you have questions about the Gold Card you can call the Harris Health System phone number at 713.566.6509 or 713.526.4243

Similar Articles That May Interest You: 

Harris Health Gold Card FAQ


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

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. 

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 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. 

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. 

42 thoughts on “How To Apply For Harris Health (Gold Card)

  1. Travis Harmason Reply

    How can I get a gold card application mail to my apartment 5135 North Freeway Apartment 43 Houston Texas 77022

  2. Iana B. Reply

    Hello, my gf applied for a gold card in Harris County a day ago. I read on this page that it takes 15-30 days to be processed, but she needs the card much sooner that this. She is in need of medical care and this is her only option at this time. Is there any way this can be expedited?

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Hi Iana. If your girlfriend was able to provide all the documents they requested (things like proof of address, income, etc) the process should go much smoother. Things get drawn out when those supporting documents are not provided. I don’t know if they are doing expedited applications due to COVID but you can call them at 713.566.6509 to see about that option.

      Not sure what type of treatment she is seeking but an alternative is making an appointment at a Federally Qualified Health Center…commonly know as the “free clinics”. Although these places arent necessarily free, they do treat people who are uninsured. If its medications that she needs soon these clinics would be a good option. If its some type of procedure the Gold Card will be your best bet.

      If you want to see which “free clinics” are near you use the link below and type your zip code into the search. You’ll see listings of clinics within about 5-10 miles of your zip code. Legacy Clinic, Hope Clinic, and El Centro de Corazon are some of the very best options for people without insurance in Houston.

      Let me know if you need more clarification on anything, happy to help.


  3. Radi Reply

    Hello Nick, question for you. I am helping my family friend to renew his gold card. This poor friend of mine lost his visibility 2 years ago, and kind of depend of others to navigate his way. With COVID19 raging all over like crazy, and I am scared to go out (much less take him out) to take care of his gold card paperwork – which we normally process it over at LBJ – is there anyway we could process the renewal online rather than meeting in-person at LBJ?
    Thank you very much for the advice.


    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Hi Radi, I COMPLETELY understand the preference to avoid the hospitals right now. I would say first call Harris Health at 713.566.6509 to see if they’ve adjusted their enrollment process due to COVID. I know services like food stamps and Medicaid have made it easier to renew services so I would imagine Harris Health did the same for the Gold Card.

      Another option is to call City of Houston Health Department. While they do not manage the Gold Card, they can certify you for the Gold Card. Their appointment line is 832.393.5427. Contact them to see if you can submit the paperwork through email to renew so you don’t have to get out in this madness.

      You’re a good friend for doing this, God bless your fam!


  4. Mary Johnson Reply

    My daughter is 20yrs old. She is having severe back pain. Its been bad for 3yrs. We don’t have insurance. I am on disability. She struggles to work part time. She has 2 recent check stubs. I have my award letter. What else do I need? I NEED to get my daughter in to a dr. She may even require surgery, I don’t know.

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Im sorry to hear that Mary, hopefully, they can get her processed quickly so that she can get treatment for her back pains.

      Here is a link to all the supporting documents needed, but in short she’ll need:

      1. ID
      2. Proof of address, some mail in the past 60 days
      3. Proof of income for past 30 days like the pay check stubs and award letter.
      4. Birth certificates of any children she has
      5. Immigration status if applicable
      6. Any other health coverage if applicable
      7. A Medicare Asset Form…if she is someone how eligible for Medicare

      Since Texas is looking to shut down again call Harris Health at 713.566.6509 to see if they’ve changed the intake process. Their walk-in Eligibility Centers may be temporarily closed in favor of people mailing in these forms.

      God bless your family and stay safe out there.

  5. Anthony Johnson Reply

    Hello Nick,

    Is it a requirement to be employed to receive the Gold Card? I was recently laid off about a month and a half ago and not certain if I can submit pay stubs for the months I was employed this year.

    Also, would a letter of support from a friend help with the application? I do not see any mention of a letter of support in the application.

    thank you, Anthony

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Hi Anthony sorry for the delay. You are correct the statement of support is used to satisfy income requirements when someone is not working although if you are living off savings not sure if you would still need to complete it or not. Contact Harris Health eligibility at 713.566.6509 to run your scenario by them to see what documents you need to submit. You don’t want to get approved for a plan that charges you more for prescription and visits if can avoid it! Hope that helps my man.

  6. Lisa Reply

    I was wondering what’s the difference between applying for the gold card with Harris health and city of Houston department I’m having varicose vein problems and need it checked out ASAP what’s the way to get approved ? …

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Good question Lisa! There is no difference in coverage if you go through City of Houston or Harris Health.

      That being said COVID has disrupted lots of things so it’s best to go straight through Harris Health at this time for enrollment. To start you’ll have to complete an application that you can download/print here.

      or if you can’t print find a Harris Health Eligibility Center to pick up an application.

      You can call Harris Health at 713.566.6509 and they’ll tell you more about how enrollment goes during COVID.

      Another option is to use this map of low cost medical clinics in Houston to find a doctor and set up a potentially faster appointment. I give you that 2nd option because sometimes the Harris Health eligibility process can be slow especially if you do not supply them with all the documents they request. Those low cost clinics can sometimes see you sooner without all the eligibility paperwork.

      Lastly if you have questions about medical conditions speak with someone from the Nurse Health Line. This line is staffed 24/7 with registered nurses who can give you advice on medical problems and even tell you when they believe a situation is worthy of going to the ER. Call them at (713) 338-7979. That being said if a condition is bad enough as always skip all this and just call 911.

      Hope that helps you Lisa,stay safe out there!

  7. Sharkita Cain Reply

    Hello I’m about to apply for gold card but the only thing is that I don’t have any income so how do I show them proof for that

  8. Steve Reply

    Hi Nick

    I have a friend that will be living with me and will need to renew her gold card with my address. She also does not have a job currently and I would need to submit a statement of support form. Does this affect my situation at all tax wise? Or do you have more information on how I will be affected if I am supporting her?

    Thanks You

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Hows it going Steve? The short answer is I’m not sure.

      When I worked with a local mental health agency they had a similar supporter statement and the person supporting the client was not impacted. Again that was a different agency so I’m not certain if Harris Health has a similar policy. Definitely call Harris Health before completing the application to be on the safe side 713.566.6509 or 713.526.4243.

  9. Anthony Johnson Reply

    Hello Nick,

    Thank you for the response above. One more question. Is the Gold Card retroactive to a date of your choosing? For example, It is Aug 27 and I would like for the card to be active as of June 1. Is this possible? I have been approved for the Gold Card but it was retroactive to only Aug 1. I did speak to the lady who I made the app with and they said it could be retroactive back to 1 year.

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      That is one area of Gold Card I’m not familiar with. If you contact the appointment line at 713.526.4243 they should be able to clear up the questions about the retroactive date.

  10. David Reply

    Hi Nick, if I need to go to the ER, can I use the gold card for that? Does the gold card pay for the ambulance?

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Hi David, really good question because I’m not 100% sure. Here is what I do know…

      If it’s a trip to a non Harris Health hospital like Methodist, St. Luke, Memorial Hermann etc I doubt it would cover that ride. Gold Card pays for many services at Harris Health clinics and hospitals. Where it gets tricky is I’ve read that the Gold Card may not pay for some services from a doctor in a Harris Health hospital, because doctors sometimes bill separately from the hospital. It could be a similar situation (separate billing) if Harris Health System contracts with an outside EMS company to transport to the hospital.

      I’ll look into your question because I’m also interested and respond on this post.

      Stay safe out there man!


      PS – One resource to help you out might be the Nurse Healthline. Its a free 24/7 hotline where you can speak to local nurses who will advise you on whether you should seek immediate medical attention or not. If you have questions about a (nonemergent) medical condition and want feedback from a professional you can call them at 713-338-7979. The reason for the helpline is to help people avoid costly trips to the ER, so feel free to call them if you ever need medical advice. It goes without saying but if you have a medical emergency, skip this helpline and just call 911.

  11. Catherine Carlson Reply

    Oh my gosh. I’m in a very tenuous situation. I’ve been a Gold card carrier for 5 years and my gold card expires 1/21/2021. I’ve been thru the agony of missing documents, so I’m armed with everything plus my first born! I’m making copies and to be on the safe side, also bringing last 3 months of bank acct records. Then, off to the drip off. ?- Pre Covid, u could get a ticket and ask to see a rep. One time, a lady took pity on me and saw my application thru quickly. Is anyone there besides the check in front desk people?
    Also, I’ve gone thru Key stone advisors, approved, have member card, etc. BUT, my gold card must remain in active, renewed standing( which is why this old lady is asking about reps on site for last min ?’s oh my, you’re a doll. So glad to ask ?’s

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Hi Catherine hope all is well! If your renewal is the 21st you are cutting it close, but I think you can manage to get it done by then. I don’t work with Harris Health (just in health care) so I’m not certain which staff members are working at the clinics. I did however call and ask about the renewal process during COVID and it seemed to be the same as before; either you 1. mailed the documents or 2. dropped them off at a Harris Health Eligibility center.

      My suggestion is to just call the eligibility center number 713.566.6509 to see if they can roll out the red carpet for you next week to get you set up again! 😉 If you can’t get your questions answered with them try the appointment line at 713.526.4243 and they may be able to provide more insight.

      The deadline is approaching, but again you’ve got time and during the pandemic healthcare organizations seem to be more flexible about deadlines.

      Hope that helps you Catherine, stay safe out there!


  12. Zach W Reply

    Nick… thank you for all of this helpful content. I hope maybe you can answer a question for me. I’m filling out my application as someone with no insurance and in need of various health services in Harris County. I live with a long-time friend who is kind enough to support me at this time as a matter of good but is in no position or under obligation to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses for me. I am employed part-time but do not contribute to household expenses.

    I am aware of the Statement of Support document you’ve linked to which I intended to submit. But, information at suggests he needs to provide all his information: “As a new requirement for completion of your Harris Health Eligibility, every household member over the age of 18 must sign and date on the application to allow Harris health to check TWC information.” If my friend’s income is considered there is certainly no way I would qualify but it seems invasive for him to be providing personal information.

    There is literally nowhere for my friend to sign the official application form, so I think I’m getting caught up in vague language that might not be pertinent or up-to-date. Can you offer any advice?

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Zach thanks for the kind words my man! I agree some of these eligibility rules can be very vague like this one. Everyone’s situation is slightly different.

      That “new requirement” seems geared toward counting the income of family members who share resources. If your friend has a son or wife, he’d be obligated to pay for their medical expenses. It seems like you have your own income, he has his. He is only providing a temporary place to stay and nothing else.

      They may still require him to list his income (many government/grant funded programs do this), but it may not impact your ability to qualify for Gold Card. To my understanding the cost of services is dependent on your income.

      Definitely contact Harris Health eligibility line at 713-566-6509 to get clarification, but I think as far as qualifying for Gold Card you should be good. Getting around him listing his income may be a different story, but let them guide you on that.

      If you cannot qualify for Gold Card, there are other options like Federally Qualify Health Clinics (Legacy Community Health is a really good one) that can treat you. Just give me a shout and I can get you a listing of clinics near you.


      • Tina james Reply

        My mom lives with me and she has no income and no verifiable bill. She is a legal resident with a green card. Can she apply for a gold card?

  13. Vanessa Foster Reply

    Hello Nick thank you so much for replying everyone so kind and great information about this.
    My brother is diabetic and unfortunately he had to be hospitalized a couple weeks ago and while in the hospital they gave him the gold card so I have a couple of questions since he is out from hospital and need serious care for his wound but he has no information about his gold card. How do can he get that and second we’ve been told that we can get like a list of places where they take the gold card like specific wound cares or if we need a special treatment where can we get that information?

    Thanks a lot for your time.

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      No problem at all Vanessa, navigating the healthcare system gives me a headache, so I can only imagine how frustrating it is for folks who don’t do this on a daily basis!

      Regarding your brother, ask him if they gave him discharge instructions when he was released? If they approved him for a Gold Card, they may have assigned him to a clinic/doctor for follow ups at a Harris Health Clinic.

      The “Gold Card” is an outdated term. Back in the day, Harris Health would literally give you a “Gold Card” which you used as an insurance card. That stopped years ago and they changed the name to Harris Health Financial Assistance Plan (HHFAP) but most still call it Gold Card. If nothing has changed since before the pandemic they will likely find his account through a finger print scanner during his check in at a Harris Health clinic.

      The easiest way to see if he has Gold Card coverage is to call the patient appointment line at 713.526.4243. They will ask for his name and DOB and check the system to make sure he is there.

      If he does have a Gold Card the scheduler can set him up with a new patient appointment or a follow up appointment if his discharge paperwork recommended that.

      The Gold Card is only accepted at Harris Health System clinics and hospitals and you can find those here. If you call the appointment line and he has Gold Card they will help him find a clinic that accepts Gold Card that is close to your side of town.

      Thank you again Vanessa for the kind words and I hope everything works out for your brother/family!


  14. Anthony T. Reply

    Hello, This is the first time I got the Gold Card. Recently I changed my name due to naturalization. I have some questions: How can I change my name on my Gold Card? What documents should I use? Do they accept the copies of supporting documents (e.g. court order, naturalization certificate, driver license, etc.)?

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Hi Anthony if you have the Gold Card already contact Harris Health to get clarification. You can try calling the appointment line at 713.526.4243 or the eligibility line 713.566.6509 and I’m sure either can direct you to the right person to figure this out. Also, congrats on your citizenship my man!

  15. alain h szyller Reply

    Here is my question,
    is there any age limit to apply for “Gold Card” ?
    I am a US citizen living in Texas since 2006.
    My mother is now 89 year old, living in France and would like to move close to me and our family.
    Our attorney is working on getting her a Permanent Residency Visa with a Social Security number with my sponsorship and this does not seem to be an issue at all.
    Our concern is about the cost of medical care. Not about regular visits that she could afford out of pocket but about emergency room visit or worse, hospital admission which can be a huge amount without insurance.
    She cannot get Medicare before 5 years of residence in the US territory.
    No private self insurance would accept her to enroll at her age.
    Would this Health Financial Assistance be available for my mother ?
    She currently gets about $2,000 monthly from her french retirement.
    Thank you, by advance, for your answer.
    Sincerely Yours,

    Alain H.Szyller, MD

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Hi Dr. Szyller,

      Anyone can receive Gold Card services, the only question in your mother’s case will likely be how much they will cover. The patient’s income will determine how much coverage Gold Card will pay for. The link below is an eligibility calculator that you can put her monthly income in to see how much she would be charged for services.

      In general, to apply for Gold Card you have to:

      1. Live in Harris County
      2. Be unable to obtain another insurance like Medicare, Medicaid, etc
      3. Also be considered low income

      I will say Gold Card is a good option for anyone who does not have hospital coverage, so you are on the right path. LBJ and Ben Taub Hospitals are affiliated with Harris Health System so they work with the Gold Card coverage.

      Give Harris Health System a call at 713.566.6509. That is the eligibility phone number and they will be able to provide you with a more concrete answer.

  16. Monica Reply

    Hello, is this insurance only for Houstonians, or can a Fort Worth resident apply as well?

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Hi Monica, that’s partially correct. It’s for residents who live in Harris County, which includes everyone in Houston. Not sure if you meant Fort Bend or Fort Worth. Either way, someone living in either would not qualify for the Gold Card you have to have mail with your name in Harris County.

      If you know someone living in Fort Worth, JPS Health Network is the Gold Card equivalent out there.

      If you meant Fort Bend then contact the Fort Bend County Health and Human Services Department for their version on Gold Card.

  17. N. Easterling Reply

    If I have blue cross blue shield as a dependent of my father in another state, am i eleigible to apply for the gold card? I currently work part-time, go to school and have snap benefits

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Hi Easterling!

      To qualify for Gold Card (which is essentially discounted healthcare) you need to live in Harris County, be low income, and have no health coverage. I’m not sure that you would qualify for Gold Card, because you already have health insurance, which is not a bad situation to be in.

      I would contact Harris Health eligibility line [(713) 566-6509] and talk to them about your coverage because they do accept private health insurance. If so they will bill your insurance company and you may just have to pay your insurance copay. If you call then and they state that they do not accept your health insurance, then that might qualify you for Gold Card, because you don’t have health coverage that they accept.

      Again the best thing to do is call Harris Health Eligibility 713.566.6509 directly and ask them if they accept your coverage. Once that question is answered they can help guide you to either using your coverage or applying for Gold Card.

  18. Mayra Reply

    Hello. I know this card is mainly for people whom can’t apply for like Medicaid in such i guess, well the father of my kids lost his documents and no he isn’t a legal resident from the USA and another question is so he said he was diagnosed with a tumor and he wants to know if he is eligible to apply. He doesn’t have any type of identification only copies and they are expired from many years ago. Is there a way he can actually qualify plus apply. Thank you so much

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      I’ve asked that question many times about residency as a qualification for Gold Card and to my understanding, these are the requirments:

      1. Must be a Harris County resident. You can prove this will mail in his name.
      2. Must be ineligible for any other type of health insurance.
      3. Must be considered low income.

      I’ve spoken to Harris Health System in the past about IDs for people who weren’t US citizens and they gave the following options:

      1. State-issued IDs, even from other countries. Not sure if it needs to be valid though.
      2. Matricula card

      I would call Harris Health eligibility and talk to them about the IDs that he does have to see if they can accept them. You can call them at 713.566.6509.

      In the meantime they have federally funded clinics that he can go to for medical treatment. No US citizenship or health insurance is needed at these clinics. You can find a list of these low cost to free clinics in Houston here.

      One specific clinic to look for in that list is San Jose Clinic in Midtown Houston. It was originally established to treat undocumented pregnant women in Houston. They’ve expanded services to more people but they are very aware and compassionate when working with undocumented individuals who have limited options for healthcare, so consider them as a clinic to call, they may be able to help.

  19. John Reply

    Hi Nick,

    I got approved for my gold card in mid July, 2021. Could you please let me know when do I need to re-apply for it again.


    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Hi John, hope all is well my man. If your income remains the same, Gold Card is good for 1 year. Start gathering documents and completing the Gold Card application about 30 days before you originally applied. In your case maybe start the process around the end of May to ensure you can reapply in time. You can call the eligibility line at 713.566.6509 to confirm those timeframes, but 30 days before your Gold Card expires is when they encourage folks to reapply for Harris Health Gold Card.

      Hope that helps. Happy Thanksgiving!


  20. Michaelan ledger Reply

    Hi Nick, I’m confused on eligibility. My son has serious cardiac issues and needs tests . He would not qualify as low income but does not have insurance and can’t afford the tests from private providers . One comment said anyone could get gold card they may not qualify for one of the discounted programs and another said low income. Is there any options for uninsured who fall through cracks . Thank you !

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Hi Michaelan, hope all is well.

      First of all anyone can get treatment from Harris Health. The only difference is some people get discounted medical care, while others pay the regular cost of care.

      Most of the people who go to a Harris Health clinic are either low income and/or uninsured.

      Individuals who are low income can potentially get discounted coverage. On the other hand, being uninsured does not necessarily mean you will get discounted coverage, because if you are self employed (and uninsured) and your income exceeds the Harris Health income limit then that person may not get discounted care.

      If your son works (although uninsured) and his income is above the Harris Health income limit he may not qualify for the discounted care. Harris Health actually has a calculator that you can use to see what he might pay for care.

      Harris Health has a huge network of clinics and providers so definitely contact them about care. Also you can look into federally qualified health centers in Houston. These are federally funded clinics where you do not need health insurance. They bill you based on a sliding scale according to what your monthly income is.

      I would say just jump on the phone and call each option mentioned and see what options are available. These clinics and healthcare systems were created for situations just like your son’s so there will be a way for him to get the testing and care that he needs.

      Let me know if you need any more info, I’m happy to help!


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