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MISP - Medically Indigent Services Program

Graphic of Stethoscope over Dollar Sign


Need Help Paying for Medical Care?

The Medically Indigent Services Program (MISP) assists qualified low-income residents who have an immediate medical need, but no source of health coverage available and no other way to pay for necessary medical care.






CONTACT MISP:  Phone: 805-781-4838

MISP office is located on the first floor of the County Health Agency Campus

2180 Johnson Avenue, San Luis Obispo, CA  93401

Hours: M-F 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Closed from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.

Office is closed on County holidays  

MISP Brochure;  en Espanol

Health Information Privacy Practicesen Espanol

Other Resources

 WHO QUALIFIES FOR MISP?                                                                    Top of Page

You may qualify for MISP if: 

  • You are 19–64 years old
  • You have income over 138% and up to 250% of the federal poverty level (FPL). See Monthly Income Range table. 
  • You have limited assets (cash and property)
    Based on tax returns and current earnings
    Min Income
    (Over 138% FPL) 
    Max Income
    (Up to 250% FPL)   
     1  $1,355  $2,453
     2  $1,833  $3,319
     3  $2,312  $4,186
     For each additional family member add:
     +1  $470  $846
  • You have a current medical need that MISP covers    
  • You have no other source of health coverage available
  • You are not eligible for Medi-Cal or any other public health coverage
  • You are a resident of SLO County and a legal resident of the U.S.
  • You have a qualified hardship (see list below) exemption from the tax penalty for not having minimum essential health coverage. A qualified hardship, or exemption, is the reason or cause that prevented you from obtaining health insurance. Click here for more information about the federal law, tax penalty, and the exemption.

List of MSIP Qualified Hardships:

  • Coverage is unaffordable: The lowest-priced coverage available (the Bronze Plan), including any premium assistance, would cost more than 8 percent of household income 
  • Became homeless
  • Evicted in the past six months, or facing eviction or foreclosure
  • Received a shut-off notice from a utility company
  • Recently experienced domestic violence
  • Recently experienced the death of a close family member
  • Recently experienced a fire, flood, or other natural or human-caused disaster that resulted in substantial damage to one’s property
  • Filed for bankruptcy in the last six months
  • Incurred unreimbursed medical expenses in the last 24 months that resulted in substantial debt
  • Experienced unexpected increases in essential expenses due to caring for an ill, disabled, or aging family member
  • Other hardship in obtaining health insurance

HOW DOES THE PROGRAM WORK?                                                    Top of Page

Duration of Eligibility

MISP provides short-term assistance to help clients pay for a specific medical need. Once approved, clients are granted eligibility for either three months or for six months, depending on the medical need. Clients may reapply if they continue to have a medical need at the end of their eligibility period.

Share of Cost

Share of cost is the monthly amount clients have to pay their providers, or agree to pay, towards their health care costs before MISP will pay the remainder. Share of cost works something like an insurance plan's deductible. See the Share of Cost Fact Sheet for more information. 

Primary Care at CHC

MISP clients receive primary care through one of the Community Health Centers (CHC) clinics located throughout SLO County. For more information, call CHC at 805-929-3211 or visit www.communityhealthcenters.org.

Clients do not have to pay a share of cost towards covered medical services received at CHC.

MISP is not health insurance and it is not Medi-Cal.

MISP offers short-term assistance to help pay for some medical expenses. MISP does not meet the legal requirement to maintain minimal essential coverage, which means you could be subject to a tax penalty.  Click here for more information about the federal law, tax penalty, and the exemption.   

WHAT DOES MISP COVER?                                                                   Top of Page

Primary care, pharmacy, and some laboratory tests, x-rays, and ultrasounds are provided through the Community Health Centers (CHC) clinics located throughout SLO County.

All other medical services, except for emergency services, must first go through your CHC primary care provider AND receive prior authorization from MISP.

Not Covered: Preventative care, health screenings, contraception, and pregnancy services are not covered.

About Emergency Services: MISP covers emergency services at SLO County hospitals only for symptoms from an emergency medical condition. An emergency is a very serious problem that requires immediate medical attention to prevent serious harm or death. If it is not an emergency, then call your primary care doctor first. If the doctor's office is closed, you can still call and you will be referred to the on-call doctor. The on-call doctor can help answer your questions and let you know if you need to go to the emergency room.  

HOW DO I APPLY FOR MISP?                                                                Top of Page

Call MISP at 805-781-4838 to start the application process or to find out more.
We're available Monday-Friday, 8:00am-5:00pm (closed from 12:00pm to 1:00pm)
The MISP office is located at the Health Agency campus: 2180 Johnson Ave., (corner of Johnson and Bishop) San Luis Obispo, 93401


It's a good idea to first find out if you qualify for Medi-Cal. Unlike MISP, Medi-Cal provides long-term and full-scope health coverage. If you're eligible for Medi-Cal, then you're not eligible for MISP. See below for how to enroll in Medi-Cal.

If your income is too high for Medi-Cal, then find out if you qualify for financial assistance, or subsidies, towards purchasing a private insurance plan through Covered California, our state’s online health insurance marketplace. Unlike MISP, private insurance plans provide long-term and full-scope health coverage.

Health care reforms have made full coverage health insurance an affordable reality. Pricing depends on income, age, and where you live, and it no longer matters if you have a pre-existing health condition.


You can apply for Medi-Cal at any time, but you can only purchase subsidized insurance coverage during the open enrollment period, which usually begins each year in November and ends in January. However, you may be eligible to sign up at any time during the year if you have had a life changing event such as getting married, having a child, or moving. Find out more about other qualifying events for special enrollment periods at Covered California or here: www.healthcare.gov/how-can-i-get-coverage-outside-of-open-enrollment/. Remember, you can apply for Medi-Cal at any time during the year.


Lots of free and unbiased help is available! Community Health Centers (CHC) has certified enrollment counselors who can answer questions or help you enroll. Call CHC at 805-929-3211 (press #0) to schedule an appointment with an enrollment counselor.

Apply for Medi-Cal through SLO County Department of Social Services.

At Covered CA, you can also search for nearby certified enrollment counselors or insurance agents by just entering your zip code.

You can enroll on your own or just get answers at www.CoveredCA.com or call 1-800-300-1506.

TIP: You can get your Medi-Cal coverage started sooner if you enroll through https://www.mybenefitscalwin.org/, where you can also find out if you're eligible for some other assistance programs.


You will have to pay a shared responsibility fee when you file your taxes if you do not have health coverage or an exemption. The fee is also called the "shared responsibility payment" and the "tax penalty." Visit www.healthcare.gov/exemptions for information about the fee, the circumstances in which you may qualify for an exemption, and the exemption applications.

OTHER RESOURCES                                                                            Top of Page

2-1-1 SLO County: Call 2-1-1 to get information and referrals to health and human services. The 24/7 phone line is free, confidential, and provides bilingual assistance.

SLO County Public Health Department's Family Health Services: Provides preventive health clinical services such as family planning, immunizations, sexually-transmitted disease control, maternal child health, WIC, and more.

SLO County Department of Social Services (DSS): Information about applying for Medi-Cal, CalFresh Food Stamps, and several other assistance programs.

Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAP SLO): Provides a range of services designed to help low-income individuals and families achieve self-sufficiency, including the Health and Wellness Program.

Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County: Provides free and nutritious food to those in need through a variety of programs.

SLO Hotline: Call 800-783-0607 for free confidential assistance 24/7 for the suicide prevention and mental health crisis line or for non-emergency emotional and mental health support and referral information. 

SLO County Drug and Alcohol Services:  Provides a variety of services and programs to help people with drug and alcohol problems, including public walk-in clinics, prevention programs, youth and adult programs, and court-mandated programs.

SLO County Mental Health Services: Provides mental health treatment services for youth, adults, and senior citizens and help with family, personal, or psychiatric issues.