Guide to Health Care Resources
This guide lists various programs or agencies that provide health care services or information about services or insurance in specific situations. The information in this guide is divided by the following topics:
- Senior Information
- Free or Reduced Cost Health Care
- Lower Cost Dental Services
- Health Care for Children with Disabilities
- General Insurance Information
- Prescription Drugs
- Veterans Information
The federal government Centers for Medicare; Medicaid Services (CMS) assists callers by providing information about Medicare and answering questions. CMS takes complaints about Medicare Advantage and prescription drug (Part D) plans. The web site includes basic information about Medicare, a plan finder to compare Medicare health coverage options in your state, Medicare publications, and more. CMS is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Minnesota Board on Aging
(651) 431-2500 or 1-800-882-6262
The Minnesota Board on Aging develops, coordinates, evaluates, and administers federal and state funds for the aging, makes grants to seven area agencies on aging and to nonprofit agencies, and serves as an advocate for older persons. Their publication Health Care Choices for Minnesotans on Medicare provides a wide variety of information useful to seniors. It lists all the Medicare supplement plans, Medicare Advantage Plans, and other Medicare plan options in Minnesota and each plan's coverage. Free copies are available from the Senior LinkAge Line® at 1-800-333-2433. The Board partners with many other groups to provide the website MinnesotaHelp. This website lists community resources, including services for seniors, as well as caregivers and persons with disabilities.
Social Security Administration
Provides public information materials about the Social Security Administration and supplemental security programs, as well as information on eligibility for Medicare. Free pamphlets on Social Security disability benefits and supplemental security income are available through this phone line. To replace a lost Medicare card, use the social security web site or call Social Security.
Senior LinkAge Line®
The Senior LinkAge Line®: A One Stop Shop for Minnesota Seniors is a nonprofit telephone and referral service which is free to seniors and their families. They assist seniors with health insurance or Medicare-related questions and help seniors and others locate lower cost prescription drugs. They connect seniors with government agencies to get questions answered or problems resolved. Phones are answered Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Questions can also be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free or Reduced Cost Health Care
Low Cost Health Care Resources
See the Guide to Additional Health Care Resources for a listing of low cost health care resources. These include resources to locate low cost clinics.
Assured Access (formerly Assured Care)
Assured Access is a Hennepin County program available to Hennepin County residents who do not qualify for other public programs. There are eligibility requirements. Members receive a discount on bills for health care services provided by certain clinics. There is no cost to enroll and no monthly premium.
(320) 240-3157 or 1-800-575-2982
The Centra-Care clinic is located in St. Cloud but offers health services on a sliding fee scale basis to anyone who does not have health insurance. Appointments are required and clients must bring proof of income.
Children's Defense Fund - Minnesota
The Children's Defense Fund - Minnesota publication "Minnesota Low-Cost Health Care Directory" helps uninsured or poorly insured families with children understand some of their health care options. Clinics are listed by county. Many of the listed clinics provide service to adults as well.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, metro area
(651) 431-5940 or TTY 888-206-6513 or VP (651) 9641514
Their fact sheet "Hearing Aid Financial Resources" lists organizations to contact for lower cost or free hearing aids and/or assistive listening devices. There are eligibility requirements. Other helpful publications are also available. Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services is part of the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
Essential Community Providers
These clinics provide care to high-risk and special needs individuals and to individuals with limited access to health care services. Patients pay based on a sliding fee scale. The Minnesota Department of Health, Managed Care Systems Section website maintains a list of these clinics.
Community Health Service Inc.
(218) 236-6502 or 1-800-842-8693
Community Health Service Inc. has seven health centers and two mobile units that offer low-cost health care on a sliding fee scale during the summer months to farm workers in certain counties. They also provide services to retired and disabled farm workers. They also have programs to assist victims of abuse. The Grafton, Moorhead, Rochester, and Wilmar clinics are open all year.
Minnesota Department of Health
(651) 201-5414 or 1-877-676-5414
The Refugee Health Program provides a directory of Health Resources Serving Diverse Cultural Communities. The directory lists by counties resources for health and dental services, mental health, home care, services for battered women and those sexually assaulted, and some social services. Many of these resources provide services at a lower cost and are available to refugees and others. Call (651) 201-5414 for a printed copy of the directory.
(651) 489-2273 or 1-866-489-4899
Portico HealthNet refers callers to community clinics that were formerly part of the Neighborhood Health Care Network (NHCN) in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas and to other community clinics throughout the state. The clinics provide a wide range of services including primary/preventive services, prenatal care, reproductive services, and dental care. Ask whether the clinic offers a sliding fee scale, offers a fee payment schedule, or accepts public assistance, MinnesotaCare® or other private insurance plans. Phones are answered Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. These phone lines were formerly answered by the NHCN.
Sage Screening Program (formerly the Minnesota Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program)
The Sage Screening Program provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and free or low-cost colposcopies to Minnesota women age 40 and over who are uninsured or underinsured and who meet income eligibility. Services are provided at participating facilities. The program was previously called the Minnesota Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration
Federal Community Health Centers provide preventive and primary care health services. They serve "populations with limited access to health care. These include low income populations, the uninsured, those with limited English proficiency, migrant and seasonal farm workers, individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and those living in public housing." Services are provided on a sliding fee scale. To find a health center near you, click on Get Health Care on the web site and in the Find a Health Center area enter your zip code.
United Way 2-1-1 - First Call for Help
Use this number to reach your local First Call for Help: 211 or 1-800-543-7709
Please note that 211 works from many but not all cell phones.
United Way 211, formerly United Way - First Call for Help, is a community answer line that provides you with information about, and refers you to, individual and family services. Trained volunteers provide information on health services, health issues, counseling, child care, legal help, transportation, and more. Phones are answered 24 hours a day. For the Twin Cities area see Greater Twin Cities United Way.
Lower Cost Dental Services
Dental Care for Children - Free Give Kids a Smile, Free Dental Care for Children. The annual free dental care for children whose families who cannot afford dental care is usually offered the first Friday and Saturday in February. The Minnesota Dental Association website has details about this service including participating dental clinics. Click on Give Kids a Smile. Each child needs an appointment to be seen.
Contact these organizations to locate lower cost dental care in your area:
Minnesota Dental Association
(612) 767-8400 or 1-800-950-3368
Minneapolis District Dental Society
St. Paul District Dental Society
(651) 489-2273 or 1-866-489-4899
University of Minnesota Dental Clinic
Supervised dental work at the University of Minnesota Dental Clinic is done by students in their last two years of dental school. For orthodontic work call (612) 625-6444. Supervised orthodontic work is done by residents who have finished their dentistry schooling and are now specializing in orthodontics.
Metropolitan State University Dental Clinic
Advanced Dental Therapy students provide services under the supervision of licensed dentists.
Health Care for Children with Disabilities
As a component of Medical Assistance, TEFRA helps families cover health care costs for their severely disabled children who would otherwise require institutional-level care. Eligibility is based on the child's income, assets, and level of disability, and other requirements. Eligibility is not based on the parent's income or assets. Contact your county human service agency for more information. A list of county agencies can be found in the Guide to Minnesota's Public Health Care Programs or call the Minnesota Health Information Clearinghouse 651 201-5178 or 1-800-657-3793.
Minnesota Children and Youth with Special Health Needs
(651) 201-3650 or 1-800-728-5420
The Minnesota Children and Youth with Special Health Needs section of the Minnesota Department of Health is a referral resource for Minnesota families with children under 21 who have disabling or potentially disabling conditions or chronic illnesses. They help families locate services and resources.
Shriners Hospital for Children - Twin Cities
The Shriners Twin Cities Unit provides care to children with neuromusculoskeletal and orthopedic conditions. All care provided at or authorized by the hospital is provided at no charge to patients and parents when they do not have health insurance.
Disability LinkAge Line
Assists persons who are looking for information or resources to aid the disabled and chronically ill, including public program information. Phones are answered Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
General Insurance Information
Minnesota Department of Commerce
(651) 296-4026 or 1-800-657-3602
The Minnesota Department of Commerce regulates insurance companies and insurance agents. They do not regulate Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). This department answers questions and addresses complaints about the companies it regulates.
Minnesota Department of Health
(651) 201-5100 or 1-800-657-3916
The Managed Care Systems section of the Minnesota Department of Health regulates Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). This department answers questions and addresses complaints about the companies it regulates.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality publications cover topics such as medical treatment effectiveness, health care costs and utilization, health care expenditures, health information systems, health technology assessment, clinical practice guidelines, and funding opportunities for grants and contracts. Single copies of publications are available free upon request from the agency.
America's Health Insurance Plans (formerly Health Insurance Association of America)
The America's Health Insurance Plans association publishes a variety of consumer guidebooks on topics such as health insurance, long-term care, and Medicare supplements.
Health Insurance Counseling Program
The Health Insurance Counseling Program for seniors provides information, counseling, and public education about health insurance. This is the Senior LinkAge Line®. It is Minnesota's State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
Minnesota Insurance HelpLine
The Insurance HelpLine provides general information on insurance, insurance companies, and suggestions on how to go about finding insurance coverage. Contact them through the Insurance Federation of Minnesota. Click on the Insurance HelpLine link on the left side of the page and leave an email asking your questions.
National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions
The National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions provides information on children's hospitals and what to consider when a child will be hospitalized. Click on About Us, About Children's Hospitals, Acts and Trends for A Parent's Guide to Choosing Hospital Care for Children.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners web site provides information about different types of insurance including health insurance. See "Insure U Get Smart about Insurance" or go directly to InsureU to see information in "Life Situations - Tips and Information." Provides health, auto, home, and life insurance information for persons in various life situations (single, families, seniors, domestic partners, military). Also click on "LIBRARY Consumers Resources and Guides" for additional general insurance information. The Association publishes booklets on insurance including Medigap and long-term care. To request one free copy of "Choosing a Medigap Policy" and "A Shopper's Guide to Long-Term Care Insurance" call the order line at 816-783-8300 or order on line.
National Health Information Center, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The National Health Information Center is a health information referral service which locates organizations as resources for health professionals and consumers who have health-related questions. Also see Healthfinder.gov for publications, health information, healthy living and prevention information, and lists of toll-free numbers to organizations that provide health-related information, education and support. The database for publications lists thousands of online federal health publications. The NHIC is also accessible via email at: email@example.com.
The Minnesota Board on Aging publishes the Health Care Choices for Minnesotans on Medicare booklet with information for seniors. Print copies are available from the Senior LinkAge Line® A One Stop Shop for Minnesota Seniors 1-800-333-2433. This publication includes information about Medicare Part D and lists Medicare Part D plans available to Minnesotans. The previous publisher, the Minnesota Senior Federation, ended operation in June 2009.
Consumer Reports Prescription & Over-the-Counter Drugs helps users locate information about the quality of a prescription drug, specifically the effectiveness of the drug and its side effects. It also provides information on ways to save money on certain drugs. Their booklet Helping Medicare Beneficiaries Lower Their Out-of-Pocket Costs under the New Prescription Drug Benefit provides seniors with information they may want to use to help lower their drug costs. The web site is produced by the Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of "Consumer Reports."
Minnesota Board on Aging, Senior LinkAge Line®, 1-800-333-2433
The Senior LinkAge Line helps Minnesota residents of all ages find programs that provide free or discounted prescription drugs. Most of these programs have income and eligibility requirements. Applications are provided. This service is provided by the Minnesota Board on Aging through the Senior LinkAge Line®.
Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit (Part D)
Medicare Part D Open Enrollment occurs each year. During this time enrollees can make changes to their Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. The Medicare website encourages enrollees to make changes by early December of each year to assure prescription coverage is available right away January 1.
Contact the Senior LinkAge Line® at 1-800-333-2433 or Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 (TTY: 1-877-486-2048) for questions about Medicare Part D. The Minnesota Board on Aging and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provide updates on this benefit.
Certain enrollees are eligible for a partial or full subsidy to help pay for this drug benefit. This subsidy is sometimes referred to as the "Low Income Subsidy" or "Extra Help." View the Social Security website or call the State of Minnesota Senior LinkAge Line® at 1-800-333-2433 to see if you would be eligible to apply for assistance. Some individuals automatically receive this assistance and would not need to apply for it.
Patient Assistance Programs
Many pharmaceutical companies provide reduced price or free drugs to eligible people. Two resources linking to patient assistance programs are RXAssist and Needymeds. You can check to see if your prescription drugs are available at a lower cost and if you are eligible for the programs. On the NeedyMeds web site, click on Generic Name List, or Brand Name List, or Company List to see if your drug is listed and for information about the specific prescription assistance programs. Most of the prescription assistance programs have eligibility requirements. Both of these sites also provide other helpful information regarding getting prescription drugs.
Free Prescription Drug Discount Cards
These cards offer prescription drug discounts. Some are preactivitated and ready to use at participating pharmacies.
- The Minnesota Drug Card is a free card available to all Minnesotans. There are no eligibility requirements. The card provides an average savings of 30 percent, sometimes as much as 75 percent, on prescription drugs. Useful for the uninsured, underinsured, and for even the insured who need help paying for prescription drugs the insurance does not cover. Call 1-888-952-8376.
- The FamilyWize® prescription drug discount card is also a free card. There are no eligibility requirements. Participating pharmacies "have agreed to provide prices similar to what they give large insurance companies and employers." You get the discount price or the pharmacy's usual and customary retail price, whichever is lower. On average, generics cost 20-70% less. Can be used on generic or brand name drugs. Call toll-free 866-810-3784. FamilyWize cards are also available by calling United Way 2-1-1.
Additional prescription drug resources and information are available in the publication Low Cost Options for Prescription Drugs
Veterans Linkage Line 1-888-546-5838 (1-888-LINKVET), TTY: 1-800-627-3529. Provides veterans and family members with information or resources on veterans' benefits, claims, health care, counseling, and many other topics.