Illinois Requirements for the Medical Card

by Bryan Clark

The medical card is a program offered by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services that allows low income persons the opportunity to receive quality medical care even though they may not have the means to afford the care on their own. There are of course requirements, but the program itself is accessible to just about anyone that would need it.


In order to qualify for the medical care, or any type of medical assistance you must either be a citizen of the United States, or you must meet certain requirements for non-citizens. To prove citizenship, you need to be able to prove your identity, and your birthplace.To prove your identity you'll need at least one of the following: drivers license, state issued identification card, school id, military id, U.S. military dependent card, or other government id (city, county, or U.S. state issued). For proof of your birthplace, you'll need at least one of the following: birth certificate, final adoption decree, official military records (that show place of birth), papers showing the person was employed by the U.S. government before 1976. For non-U.S. citizens, you'll need a copy of at least one of the following: alien registration receipt card/permanent resident card/green card (INS-3A), passport with the following stamps or attachments: arrival-departure record with the stamp showing status (I-94), or resident alien form (I-151 or I-1551), or temporary resident card (I-688); court ordered notice for asylees, INS documents with an A-number, other proof of lawful immigration status.

Income and Assets

The medical card program is for low income recipients, and therefore must carefully screen all applicants based on income and assets. Although there are no set numbers for who receives the medical card, and who doesn't, the qualifying factors are: earned income (wages, tips, etc.), unearned income (social security or pension), and total value of assets including but not limited to: houses, cars, money in the bank, and life insurance. Although you may be turned down for having too much income, or having too many assets, there is a secondary program you may qualify for called the Spenddown Program. The Spenddown Program pays some of your medical bills if they reach a certain amount each month. The Spenddown amount is on a case-by-case scenario, but once you exceed the Spenddown amount, the state picks up the rest of the tab.


During the application process, and after you are approved, you are required to comply with all rules and regulations set forth by your case worker. These rules are all pretty cut and dry, and include things like: notifying the caseworker of change in salary, address, family size, or living situation.

About the Author

Bryan Clark has been a freelance writer since 2002. His work has appeared in "The New York Times," "USA Today" and the U.K.'s biggest paper—"The Guardian," amongst other, smaller publications.

Photo Credits

  • health centre sign. access to health centre image by L. Shat from