Thursday, May 8, 2014


By Mildred Robertson

If you are a former foster child between the ages of 18-26, you may be eligible to enroll in Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). ACA allows young adults coming out of the foster care system to get Medicaid coverage, regardless of income, until they reach the age of 26, just as other young adults are able to remain on their parent’s health plan.
According to “Stateline Weekly,” about 26,000 young adults ages 18-22 years leave the foster care system each year. These young adults are left without state protection. But ACA grants these individuals full Medicaid coverage until they reach 26 in the state where they lived when they left the foster care system.
The problem however, is that many eligible young adults are not participating in the program. Former foster children many times are transient, relocating to go to school, find jobs, reunite with family, or are simply homeless. According to “Stateline Weekly,” 26,000 young adults leave foster care each year without permanent homes.
It is imperative that we get the word out about the availability of this valuable resource to young adults who sorely need the health coverage. Under ACA, they are entitled to it, whether the state they live in participated in the health exchange or not.
Under the Chaffee option, a provision of the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999, young adults released from foster care were eligible for Medicaid until they reached 21 years of age. Now, under ACA, that coverage is extended to the age of 26. It is not part of the Medicaid expansion, so the benefit applies in all states, not just the ones that expanded Medicaid.

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