If you're an Illinois resident, the Medical Card is proof that you qualify for state medical benefits. It's a hard-copy paper card that you carry with you to appointments. Showing the card along with a photo ID establishes you're legitimately entitled to medical benefits. To establish your Medical Card eligibility in Illinois, you fill out a long form, then submit it to a state office.
The requirements for your Medical Card say you must be an Illinois resident and usually a U.S. citizen. You must also be one of the following:
- 65 years old or older
- With children under 19
If you fit one of the categories, you can apply for the card at one of the state's Family Community Resource Centers. If you're a noncitizen, you might qualify if you're pregnant, a child or in dire need of emergency medical treatment. You can download the application from the Illinois Department of Human Services website. The DHS locator on the website will help you find the closest office.
How to Apply for a Medical Card
The application form, bureaucratically labeled IL444-2378 B, is the same whether you're asking for medical assistance, cash assistance or food stamps. The sections required to get a Medical Card are marked with a cross symbol, for example:
- Citizenship and immigration status
- How many people live with you and which of them want medical assistance
- Whether anyone in your household is disabled or blind or receives Social Security disability benefits
- How much you and the other people in your household work, and what they earn
- If anyone in the household pays child support, alimony or student-loan interest
- If members of your household receive coverage through Medicaid, Medicare or employer insurance
- Any other resources such as bank accounts, bonds or a 401k
If any of your financial data changes, it's up to you to notify DHS within 10 days.
After the DHS office receives your signed application process, staff will schedule an interview. If you aren't physically able to come to the office, you can participate over the phone. As part of the qualifying process, you'll have to provide documentary proof of your identity and your residence, as well as proof of Social Security numbers for everyone in your household applying for assistance. The DHS staff might request added documents based on your particular situation.
If the state ultimately rejects your application, you have the right to appeal. You do that at the office where you applied, or by calling the central office in Chicago.
The Medical Card program isn't your only option for help. The All Kids program offers comprehensive healthcare for uninsured children, for instance. Illinois accepted the expanded Medicaid option under the federal Affordable Care Act, so it's possible you can qualify for Medicaid coverage. The DHS website or staff at the nearest center can help you figure out your best option.
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- Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services: Medical Card Customer Brochure
- Illinois Department of Human Services: Frequently Asked Questions Medical Assistance
- Illinois Department of Human Services: Apply for Cash, SNAP (Food Stamps) and Medical Assistance
- Illinois Department of Human Services: Overview of Services
- Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services
Over the course of his career, Fraser Sherman has reported on local governments, written about how to start a business and published four books of film reference. He lives in Durham NC with his awesome wife and two wonderful dogs.