Guest Post by Lauren Tobias, Director of Policy for Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) children may stay on their parent’s health insurance until age 26. But, youth who age out of the foster care system may not have that option. Luckily, the ACA allows former foster care youth who were on Medicaid at the time of discharge to remain in Medicaid until 26, regardless of income. This provision took effect January 1, 2014.
There are certain requirements for a young adult to be eligible: he or she must have been in the custody of a Commissioner of a local department of social services or the Commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services on their 18th birthday; AND must have been in receipt of Medicaid on their 18th birthday or the day of their final discharge. New York will cover former foster care youth who were in foster care in New York and those who were in foster care in other states. This is important for former foster youth who relocate after discharge to pursue education or work.
On behalf of the Children, Youth and Families Task Force of HCFANY, the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy developed a toolkit of materials to help providers and outreach workers understand this provision of the ACA. The toolkit contains presentations that explain the provision and share ideas for how to reach youth and how to help them enroll. It also includes two videos featuring foster care youth ambassadors who speak about the importance of getting health insurance. Find the toolkit on both the HEALTH and CHILD WELFARE pages of Schuyler Center’s website.
Systems are in place to assure that foster care youth will be enrolled into Medicaid until age 26 but former foster care youth who were already discharged from foster care may not be aware that they are eligible for continued public insurance. That’s why outreach efforts will be very important to assure that young adults who qualify for this provision can take advantage of it. As advocates and social and health services providers, we need to work together to reach them.
You can also access a flyer which contains information about this resource here. Anyone is welcome to post the flyer on your organization’s website or distribute to your membership or colleagues.