For many, affordable health care has remained out of reach. Unrealistic requirements for health insurance have left individuals falling through the cracks, unable to afford preventative care and necessary treatments — until now. Last year, rural voters showed up for their neighbors to expand Medicaid in Missouri, extending health care coverage to more than 200,000 newly eligible adults.

Through MO HealthNet, parents, childless adults, people with disabilities, and more previously ineligible Missourians are able to receive free and low-cost insurance. The newly expanded coverage includes primary physical, behavioral, and dental care, among other services.

Relying on emergency visits for health care comes with a high cost for both patients and providers. Affordable health insurance allows individuals to invest in their health, decreasing the likelihood of needing emergency care. When patients proactively care for themselves, they are less likely to develop health complications later.

The Health Care Collaborative (HCC) of Rural Missouri provides a variety of both clinical and social care services to connect patients to the resources they need to invest in their well-being. HCC prioritizes a patient-centered approach to care, aiming to give patients a hand up with their health.

Through HCC’s Live Well Community Health Centers, patients can receive primary and behavioral health care, dental care, vaccineswell woman and child services, and more either for free or on a sliding pay scale. HCC also hosts Project Connect events, offering free health and social services to community members as well as resources like hygiene items, clothing, and more from their supply warehouse.

HCC community health workers (CHWs) such as Shelly Harden assist individuals with applications to receive Medicaid coverage, food stamps, rent and utility assistance, and more. Harden currently helps patients determine eligibility for Missouri Medicaid and guides them through the application process.

New Expansion Guidelines

Eligibility for MO HealthNet depends on your income, age, health, and individual needs. You may be eligible if you are a(n):

  • Parent or caretaker with a child (under age 19). Note: If you have custody of children, you must also have healthcare coverage for the children in order to be eligible.
  • Adult (age 19-64) without disabilities.
  • Woman (under age 65) with breast or cervical cancer.
  • Person with disabilities.
  • Blind or visually impaired adult.

“A lot of these people have fallen through the cracks before because they didn’t have children or weren’t pregnant, so this is a great opportunity for them,” Harden said.

“I think it will definitely increase the ability for more in the community to access health care as it will be more affordable, they are now eligible for it, and it will improve the health of the low-income population.”

What Services are Covered?

“This will cover services like inpatient hospital services, if you need to stay overnight in the hospital; outpatient services, such as doctor appointments, mental health services, and lab tests; medicines prescribed by your doctor; family care, such as care by a midwife or family planning resources; screening, prevention, and treatment for children; anything that might be needed,” Harden said.

Missouri Medicaid offers protection for the future, whether you currently have care needs or not. “Being healthy is a good reason to utilize this health insurance,” Harden said.  “That way you can do preventative care to continue being healthy.”

Other than preventing or delaying disease, routine care also offers peace of mind in case of emergency. “Whether that’s falling and breaking your arm or having a heart attack or an appendix attack, even those who are healthy can have mishaps,” she said. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Missouri Medicaid will cover a variety of benefits for adults, children, and families, including:

  • Ambulance services.
  • Behavioral health and substance use services.
  • Family planning services.
  • Hospice.
  • Maternity and midwife services.
  • Pharmacy.
  • Preventative care, including well checks, mammograms, and cancer screenings.
  • Primary care.
  • Specialist care.
  • Tobacco cessation counseling.
  • Local health department services such as immunizations and screening, diagnosis, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, tuberculosis, and lead poisoning.
  • And more, including some limited coverage options for certain services.

Your Health is Worth It

Harden and her colleagues are dedicated to guiding patients through the application process and helping complete applications if needed. If additional documentation or verification is needed for the application process, CHWs will be able to aid and help attain proofs.

“We then continue to follow up with the Medicaid system to see how the process is going, see if any more information is needed and let the patient know,” Harden said. “We help the clients from the beginning all the way through until they get a decision. If they get approved, wonderful. If not, we will discuss with the client if they want to appeal that decision and what that looks like.”

If clients do choose to pursue the appeal process, a CHW will pair them with legal aid and help them complete that process at no cost. If clients are still denied after the appeal, HCC’s Live Well Community Health Centers have a sliding fee scale they can discuss to help with medical expenses.

“It’s really important to try applying for the different Medicaid programs,” Harden said. “Now that we have the expansion, you can get insurance, and it will help a lot of households out by providing them the proper medical attention they need and not utilizing emergency rooms as often.”

“Even if one is already approved for Medicaid, whether they are disabled or elderly, their bills can be first billed to Medicare and then the remaining billed to Medicaid as a secondary insurance,” she continued. “Therefore it can decrease the medical expenses they have.”

Whether you have insurance, have never applied before, or have previously applied and were denied, providers recommend reviewing new eligibility requirements as soon as possible. “Things have totally changed,” Harden said. “It’s well worth your time and effort to try again.”

For help determining eligibility and enrolling in Missouri Medicaid, contact Shelly Harden at 660.214.2869. Listen to Harden discuss Medicaid Expansion and the new guidelines in an interview for the HCC podcast.

Apply for Missouri Medicaid through MO HealthNet:

You must complete & submit the Supplemental Form (Forma Español) with your application if you:

  • Are blind or disabled.
  • Get Social Security.
  • Have VA health care.

Send your paper application and forms by email, mail, or fax to:

  • Email:
  • Family Support Division
    615 E 13th St
    Kansas City, MO 64106
  • Fax: 573-526-9400

The Family Support Division will process your application and any supporting documentation as soon as they receive it. Processing begins October 1, 2021, and may take up to 45 days. Once your application is processed, you will get a letter that lets you know if you are eligible for health care coverage or not. If you are approved, you will receive a MO HealthNet Identification Card and information explaining the type of services and coverage you have. You will need to follow the instructions in this letter for your coverage to begin.