County Medically Indigent Programs

County Health Programs

California counties have to provide some health care to low income county residents. Very low income people who are not eligible for Medi-Cal or Medicare may be eligible for their county’s health program. People who qualify for their county’s health program are low income adults who are not the caretaker relative of a minor child, who are not seniors, and who do not meet Social Security or Medi-Cal’s criteria for disability.

Each county has its own program, so there are no consistent rules regarding who is and is not eligible for county medically indigent programs. Many beneficiaries will get covered health services for free, but some will have to pay a share of the cost depending on income.

Counties do not have to provide the same quality or scope of health care that people with private insurance or Medi-Cal receive. Each county has its own rules about what health care services the county medically indigent program will cover. Counties do have to provide emergency care, care necessary to treat life or limb threatening conditions, care that will prevent disability or illness, and care that will alleviate severe pain.

The way care is provided is different from county to county. 35 small counties have combined to join the County Medical Services Program (CMSP). CMSP is administered by Blue Cross. To get CMSP services beneficiaries must use providers in the Blue Cross CMSP network. If CMSP beneficiaries have trouble finding a specialist they can call Blue Cross and Blue Cross will help them find a specialist.

For more information on your county’s health program visit your county’s Health and Social Services Department website:

The Low Income Health Program

California counties are preparing for the expansion of Medi-Cal by doing an early expansion county by county.  The Low Income Health Program (LIHP) is similar to the county health program in terms of who is eligible but it allows people who have more property and assets to be eligible. The LIHP also requires that counties give enrollees an expanded benefits package, so people on the LIHP get more health services than those enrolled in the county health program.

A group of small counties have joined together to be part of an LIHP called Path2Health. You can get information about Path2Health at:

Sacramento and Placer counties are running their own LIHPs. You can get information about the Sacramento County LIHP here

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