The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes a provision that allows all young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26. Recognizing that young people who leave foster care with no legally binding tie to a family should also have access to affordable health care, the legislation allows them to retain Medicaid coverage up to age 26. This provision becomes effective January 1, 2014.

Advocates can play an important role to ensure that the ACA provision to extend Medicaid works for youth who are leaving or have already left foster care. By working across child welfare and Medicaid agencies and with the community, advocates can help realize the following goals:

  • Seamless health care coverage for youth who age out of care to age 26; and
  • Outreach to youth who have already left foster care and are not yet age 26 to inform them of eligibility for Medicaid and support them in efforts to become enrolled.

Given the impending implementation date of this provision, it is critical to lay the groundwork now, particularly for youth who have already left care or will do so in the near future. This brief, authored by ChildFocus, outlines key steps child welfare stakeholders can take to ensure Medicaid coverage to age 26 for youth in, or who have aged out of, foster care.

We are also excited to share a communications toolkit to facilitate outreach relating to Medicaid and foster youth by state-based children’s advocacy organizations and their partners.