Programs ranging from federal-state sponsored Medicaid and Florida KidCare to services provided by Polk County’s half-cent indigent care sales tax offer some help for people who can’t afford traditional health insurance

Through the half-cent sales tax, the county has Polk HealthCare Plan, which involves all five hospitals and doctors who take the plan’s rates. It provides some financial help to volunteer clinics, the Florida Department of Health, Lakeland Regional Health’s family clinic, Central Florida Health Care and mental health-substance abuse treatment programs.

1) MEDICAID: Children, pregnant women, disabled adults and senior citizens are the ones most likely to be eligible for its coverage, if their income is low enough. Apply through the Florida Department of Children and Families, either online at or at the toll-free number 866-762-2237.

2) POLK HEALTHCARE PLAN: Funded by the half-cent sales tax, this provides coverage for a few thousand uninsured Polk residents, ages 19 through 64, whose income is at or below 100 percent of federal poverty guidelines and who have limited assets. The income limit depends on family size. They can’t be eligible for Medicaid or Medicare, although some on Medicaid’s Medically Needy “share of cost” may qualify for some limited benefits. Call 863-534-5387 for more information or an interview.

3) FREE CLINICS: Uninsured Polk residents who earn less than 200 percent of the federal guidelines determining poverty can get help at one of several clinics operated predominantly by volunteers. These clinics supply office-type medical care for uninsured people who aren’t eligible for other programs. Because they rely on volunteers, some aren’t open every weekday. The maximum gross annual income would be $23,539 for one person, $31,859 for a two-person household, $40,170 for a three-person household and $48,499 for four, according to federal poverty guidelines released in January.

In alphabetical order by location, they are:

ELOISE: Angels Care Center of Eloise, 863-875-5595

HAINES CITY: Parkview Medical Clinic, 863-353-6853

LAKE WALES: Lake Wales Free Clinic, 863-676-1222

LAKELAND: Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine, 863-688-5846

Good Samaritan Clinic, through Talbot House Ministries, 863-687-8475

WINTER HAVEN: The Haley Center, 863-299-6562

4) FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH IN POLK COUNTY: Provides routine prenatal care in Lakeland, Auburndale, Haines City and Lake Wales. Higher-risk patients go to the Lakeland clinic. Low Income Pool funds from the state, dispersed through the county, allowed it to have expanded primary care and dental care in some of its clinics.

Phone numbers are 863-413-2620 for Lakeland, 863-965-5400 for Auburndale, 863-678-4144 for Lake Wales and 863-421-3204 for Haines City

5) WE CARE, a local program that matches some uninsured patients needing specialty care, such as cataract surgery, with physicians willing to volunteer that care. A referral from a health provider, such as a doctor or nurse, is needed. Call 863-701-8070.

6) WOMEN, INFANTS AND CHILDREN: WIC, run through the Department of Health, is for pregnant and breast-feeding women, women who recently were pregnant, infants and children younger than 5 who have low or moderate income and are at nutrition risk. Income can be as high as 185 percent of federal poverty guidelines, which would be $419 a week for a family of two (with unborn infant counted as a person), $1,455 a week for a family of eight. Call 1-800-765-5942, ext. 11069.

7) FLORIDA KID CARE: It has four parts: MediKids, children ages 1-4; Medicaid; Florida Healthy Kids, children 5-18 who aren’t eligible for Medicaid; and Children’s Medical Services Network, children with special health needs. Insurance under Healthy Kids typically is $15 or $20 a month for children in families whose income is less than 200 percent of poverty guidelines. Full-pay plans are available for children whose families earn more. Call 1-888-540-5437 or look at

8) CENTRAL FLORIDA HEALTH CARE: A federally qualified health center, it receives federal funds and some assistance from the county. Its clinics provide medical care on a sliding scale based on income. Some clinics have dental care. Private paying patients and those who are insured can go to CFHC. Polk clinic numbers are 863-413-8600 for Lakeland; 863-292-4280 for Winter Haven, which has medical and dental; 863-419-3330 for Dundee; 863-635-4891 for Frostproof, medical and dental;, 863-425-6200 for Mulberry; 863-678-4360 for Lake Wales Dental.