Medicaid to 26 FAQs: Youth Under Age 26 and in Care at Age 18

This FAQ represents the interpretation of Juvenile Law Center. We will update this FAQ as we learn new information, so please check back frequently for updates. While these questions and answers are Pennsylvania-specific, many could apply in other states.

If you're a child welfare professional with questions, visit our child advocate FAQ's page.

I have been out of care for a while and just found out about this new opportunity for health insurance for former foster youth. How do I apply?

If you are not currently in care, are under age 26, and think you may be eligible, you should apply for Medicaid in your state. When you are filling out the application look out for a question about whether you were in foster care at age 18 or older and make sure you check “yes.” You should also check with you child welfare agency and the Independent Living program in your state to see if they have developed any special processes for helping former foster youth enroll in the Medicaid to 26 program.

 How do I prove that I was in foster care at age 18?

First, check your state’s verification process. Your state may be able to verify your former foster youth status without you submitting any documents. If you are required to produce documents to verify your status and you have a copy of a court order or information on child welfare agency letterhead that states that you were in foster care at age 18 and enrolled in Medicaid at that time, you will be in great shape. If you do not have those documents, here are a few things you can do:

  • Call the child welfare agency and ask for help in providing documentation.
  • Call the Independent Living Coordinator for the state or county you were in care with and ask if he or she can help you with documentation.
  • If you are trying to prove your former foster youth status in another state than the one you are applying in, you can call the Independent Living Coordinator and Child Welfare Agency for that state and ask for their help.  Click here for a list of all the Indepentdent Living State Coordinators. Click here for state child welfare agencies.

Does it matter how much money I make?

NO. As a former foster youth, you are eligible for free Medicaid no matter how much money you make.

I already have health insurance through my school or work. Why should I sign up for Medicaid for former foster youth?

Medicaid for former foster youth provides you with certain benefits that you may not receive with your current insurance. For example:

  1. It’s free insurance. You pay $0 for your insurance regardless of how much money you make. While there may be some co-pays after age 21; you will not need to pay for your insurance.
  2. You can keep your coverage until age 26 even if you start earning more money, change jobs, or leave school.

I already have Medicaid because I am low-income. Why should I enroll in Medicaid for former foster youth?

The Medicaid coverage available to former foster youth may include certain benefits that are not available to people enrolled in other Medicaid categories. For example, if you are enrolled in Medicaid for former foster youth, you stay covered until your 26th birthday even if your income changes.