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 (also known as a medically indigent 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 a county medically indigent program. 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 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. Thirty-five 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.  Links to a few programs are provided below:

County Medical Services Program

Sacramento County CMISP

Placer County MCSP

Ventura County Health Care Agency

Santa Barbara Medically Indigent Adult Program

If you are denied eligibility or services under your county’s medically indigent program, help may be available.  Call the Health Consumer Alliance at 1-888-804-3536 to be directed to the Health Consumer Center nearest you, or click here to choose your local center.


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