Low income residents without the money or insurance may be able to seek medical care through some public assistance programs.
Gwenda Bond, director of communications for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said Medicaid provides nearly full coverage for office visits, hospitalizations and prescription drugs. Some plans may require a low copayment for prescriptions. Medicaid is available based on income to unemployed, uninsured, under-employed and dependents based on income.
“It varies based on income and the size of a household,” Bond said. “The best way to find out is for a person to visit their local Department of Community Based Services and inquire.”
Bond said nearly 800,000 Kentucky residents receive Medicaid. The recession has increased that amount, but Bond said for now, growth in the number of Medicaid recipients has stabilized.
Bond said Kentucky children may be eligible for the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program if their family’s income is 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Indicator or less. KCHIP provides coverage for primary care, prescription drugs, hospitalization, mental health, dental, and hearing and vision care.
“At the end of February, we had about 430,000 children on Medicaid, and 64,533 received KCHIP benefits,” Bond said. “Gov. (Steve) Beshear has worked to increase the number of children receiving KCHIP since 2008 so we’ve seen that population grow over the past few years.”
Older Americans may be eligible for Medicare. Lee Millman, public affairs officer for Medicare, said 48.1 million Americans receive this benefit. Persons 65 or over or receiving a disability benefit may file to receive Medicare benefits. Medicare Part A provides hospital coverage requiring a copayment. Part B provides for outpatient and office visit coverage. Millman describes Part C as a managed care plan providing additional services. Part D is a prescription drug plan providing reimbursement for medications.
“Other benefits include a Welcome to Medicare exam and new yearly medical wellness exams,” Millman said. “We also offer some vaccines like influenza and pneumococcual. People can call 1-800-MEDICARE with questions about benefits. It’s free and available 24-7.”
Linda Cavitt, director of nursing for the Purchase District Health Department, said her office provides a number of services for low income residents. The WIC program provides pre- and postpartum women with nutritional education and grocery purchasing assistance. It’s offered to all women at 185 percent or below of the poverty level. The health department also offers gynecological exams, family planning and birth control at free or reduced charges. STD testing, cancer screenings and programs like smoking cessation and diabetes self management are available for free or at a reduced cost. Cancer treatment may be available through a temporary card before a person receives Medicaid.
“If a woman needs prenatal care, we can usually provide services on a sliding fee scale based on income,” Cavitt said. “For the first three months, they may be eligible for a temporary medical card. After that, they can get on Medicaid.”
Cavitt said more people come to the health department seeking care due to the recession.
“A lot of people are making less or have lost their job or benefits, plus more consumers are being savvy and looking for health care at reduced cost.”
Contact Alan Reed, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8658.