Medicaid has been helping to keep kids and families healthy since it was created 50 years ago this week, and among those who benefit from Medicaid are young adults who have aged out of foster care.
Under the Affordable Care Act, states are required to ensure continued access to Medicaid and health care services for former foster care youth until age 26. In Pennsylvania, this provision currently provides Medicaid access to nearly 1,300 former foster youth.
Why does this matter? Because children in foster care often face significantly greater health issues than their peers – issues that can follow them into adulthood. Research has shown:
- Many children are placed in foster care because of neglect, physical or emotional abuse, parental substance abuse or abandonment, issues that often trigger or exacerbate chronic physical, developmental and/or mental health disorders.
- Nearly 60 percent of children in foster care have at least one chronic medical condition and 25 percent suffer from three or more.
- An estimated 50 percent to 80 percent of children in foster care suffer from moderate to severe mental health problems, and children in foster care use mental health services at a rate 15 to 20 times higher than the general pediatric population.
Medicaid coverage also is critical considering young adults who have aged out of the foster care system are at higher risk for experiencing homelessness, lack of physical and behavioral health care, unemployment and other adverse situations.
If you know of a former foster youth in Pennsylvania who needs health care coverage, please share this information with them. And they can visit the COMPASS website to sign up for Medicaid coverage.
Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following us via social media: