For many people, necessary health care is unaffordable. That’s when the Bell County Indigent Health Services Department steps in.

The organization, that has an office at 309 Priest Drive in Killeen, helps provide health care to low income adults who do not qualify for other state or federal health care assistance programs.

The program focuses on chronic illnesses as well as mental health and helps out when necessary medications are simply too expensive for their patients.

“We provide medically necessary health care for those who do not qualify or are unable to afford healthcare assistance on their own,” said Deputy Director Ebony Jackson. “Anyone can apply, we do not turn anyone away, but they must meet the criteria which is income, residency, household composition and they will not be able to qualify for Medicate.”

Although the department works closely with the Greater Killeen Free Clinic and other local organizations and pharmacies, the demand for health care and the access to prescriptions is constantly growing.

In order to meet those needs, the department is improving its social navigation, linking clients to the right provider and helping them apply for the necessary health services.

“We do have a navigation program … with Scott & White Hospital and our navigator,” Jackson said. “They assist clients in helping them to create goals so that they can meet their health and social issues.”

The organization also started a new a pharmacy assistance program that aims to lower the cost of medications for the county. Patients receive the medications completely free.

“We noticed that the county … paid approximately over $1 billion in prescriptions,” Jackson said. “But they have a (pharmacy) program … with over 3,000 prescriptions where you can pay a very much lower rate.”

According to the department, the county paid $73,439 alone for their patients’ Lyrica prescription, a medication used to treat chronic nerve and muscle pain. The program reduced the cost to $520.84.

The reason the department couldn’t focus earlier on the pharmacy assistance program simply was lack of time and personnel.

“Because we have such a heavy case load … our case managers did not have the time to do the paperwork or to contact the pharmaceuticals and therefore we hired Jonathan Wilhite,” Jackson said. “We felt that he was the person for the job that could not only build this prescription program but also administer it.”

As the Bell County Indigent Health Services patients assistance program coordinator, Wilhite researches all of the medications used by the department and works directly with each individual patient.

“First the client fills out the application, then it is sent to the doctor for their verification and then it is sent to the manufacturer,” Wilhite said about the process.

The majority of the medications is needed for long-term treatments of mental health illnesses as well as high blood pressure and diabetes.

“The illnesses that we concentrate on are … chronic illnesses,” he said. “They are not going to go away because we gave them some medication.”

According to the department, clients need to be eligible for the Indigent Health Services to be able to take part in the pharmacy program and receive the medication on an ongoing basis.

Since many patients did not have the necessary transportation to pick up their medication, the prescriptions are delivered to their door without any out-of-pocket cost.

Bell County Indigent Health Services also operates an office in Temple and is open for walk-ins every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Appointments for both locations can be made by contacting a case manager. Contact Bell County Indigent Health Services 254-519-1229

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