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Focusing on the initiative- dubbed the Porch Light Project – to safely reduce the number of children and youth in foster care in PA and to ensure a forever family for every child.

Ensuring Former Foster Youths Stay Insured

Among the more than 6,500 students on the campus of Clarion University of Pennsylvania this fall is a former foster youth – we’ll call him “Chris.” He’s a busy student, working two internships as he takes classes, and he’s grateful that can pay his rent and bills as he pursues a college degree.

One thing he can’t afford, however, is health insurance. And unlike many of his peers, he can’t benefit from a provision of the federal Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. “Obamacare”) that allows young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26.

Fortunately for Chris, a lesser known provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that takes effect Jan. 1, 2014, requires states to provide Medicaid coverage until age 26 for young people who have aged out of foster care. The provision applies not only to those aging out of foster care in 2014 and beyond, but also former foster youth like Chris who have aged out since 2006, as long as they haven’t yet reached age 26 and were receiving Medicaid when they aged out.

“I don’t have a parent whose insurance can cover me while I’m finishing school, so the opportunity to have health insurance for the next couple years is a big relief and will help me until I get full-time employment with benefits,” Chris explained.

It is estimated there are about 13,300 children currently in the foster care system in Pennsylvania who, if they remain in foster care until they age out, would qualify for Medicaid until age 26. In addition, it is estimated there are about 11,000 children who previously aged out of foster care and have not yet turned 26 who would be eligible for Medicaid.

And we know former foster care children need health insurance. According to a study released by the Georgetown Center on Children and Families, approximately 80 percent of children in foster care have a chronic medical condition, and 25 percent have three or more chronic health problems. For these youth to not have health insurance could be devastating and potentially life threatening.

This provision of the ACA is good for foster youth and the commonwealth as a whole.

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mack k's Gravatar Son's GF is a foster child who was adopted by her foster family. She still gets free college tuition and healthcare from the state and I was just wondering if that's the case for all foster kids who get adopted or only her state (Florida)? I would think once adopted, the adoptive parents become responsible for some of these costs, no? Her adoptive parents even continue to get checks from the state for her (she's not yet 21). Last month they used it to buy new appliances for themselves while the girl is driving my son's car to school because she doesn't have one and they won't buy her one. At least she will be able to get Medicaid to 26...or will she, if she is adopted?
# Posted By mack k | 9/1/13 8:39 PM
Todd's Gravatar You raise a number of good questions... Youth adopted at age 13 or older can receive significant tuition assistance for higher education as they are considered financially independent when applying for student aid. Some states actually have tuition waivers for youth who are in foster care, which may be the case in FL.
States have the option to extend adoption subsidies to age 21 when older youth are adopted from foster care, and when a youth is eligible to receive an adoption subsidy they are typically also eligible for Medicaid. In PA we recently extended subsidies to age 21 for teenagers who are adopted or enter legal guardianship from foster care, and this means they will also receive health coverage to 21. But only youth who are in foster care at age 18 or older can receive Medicaid until age 26 under the ACA. So a youth who was adopted from foster care prior to age 18 will need to seek continued health coverage on their parent's insurance... In response to the particular scenario you raise... you may want to encourage her to contact the FL Department of Human Services or the entity responsible for providing her the subsidy. If she is over age 18 it is possible FL could make the subsidy payment directly to her.
# Posted By Todd | 9/5/13 12:33 PM
New Jersey Foster Kids's Gravatar Our mission is to brighten the lives of Foster Children all over the state of New Jersey.
We do this in a lot of ways! For example…
Right now we’re hosting a toy drive so foster children all over New Jersey will have plenty of presents under their tree.
# Posted By New Jersey Foster Kids | 11/18/13 12:17 PM
gemeente's Gravatar I appreciate your writing because you described really exclusive news. Thanks for sharing such an informative post.
# Posted By gemeente | 11/21/13 5:11 PM
Debt Management Birmingham's Gravatar Your perspective is definitely something I would like to see more of. Thanks for this blog.
# Posted By Debt Management Birmingham | 1/24/14 9:56 AM
Comments from readers of Blogging4Children do not necessarily represent the views of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.