July 2013

Health Reform Provides New Health Coverage for Youth Formerly in Foster Care

Kenny Feder and Sharon Langer, M.Ed., J.D.

In order to help keep young adults insured, the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows adult children to remain on their parents' health insurance until the age of 26.  However, this provision does little for the 26,000 young men and women in the nation who age out of the foster care system each year – those who exit foster care without being reunified with their birth families, adopted, or placed in the care of another close, permanent connection.   Recognizing the need to provide parity of coverage for youth who age out of the foster care system, the ACA also extends Medicaid eligibility to age 26 to all youth who were on Medicaid in foster care on their 18th birthday or who aged out of foster care at a later age.

The extension of Medicaid to youth formerly in foster care will be a valuable lifeline for these vulnerable young people who have high health needs and are disproportionately likely to be uninsured. For this reason, it is important that Connecticut efficiently and effectively implement this Medicaid expansion. This paper discusses the importance of providing health insurance to youth who age out of the foster care system, explains the coverage Connecticut currently offers, clarifies how the ACA expansion works and who is covered by it, and makes recommendations for  implementing the expansion of Medicaid to youth formerly in foster care.

Issue Areas:
Child Welfare, Health