Access to Healthcare for Foster Youth: Why Medicaid to 26 Matters

Juvenile Law Center,
Photo of young woman in doctor's office.

Medicaid to 26 is a provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which has allowed foster youth to stay insured after they leave care. It provides parity with other young people who have the option of staying on their parents’ plans until they are 26. This significant policy win has ensured that young people in vulnerable positions who need basic insurance and may experience health issues and/or disabilities have access to care. Here are some of the ways in which it has helped former foster youth:

“I am currently 22 years old and aged out of the foster care system. As a foster child, who am I going to look to when I get hurt? It is important to keep this provision because people like me don’t have family to go to.” -Kristopher, Washington State

“I aged out of foster care at 21 and am currently eligible and receiving Medicaid to 26. It has been very useful in helping me to schedule regular doctor appointments and get specific treatment, including seeing doctors for my asthma.” -Bernadette, Philadelphia, PA

“Because of Medicaid to 26, I was able to get necessary testing to see if I had cancerous cells in my body after having an abnormal Pap smear. It is important to preserve this section of the ACA for foster youth because we do not have many choices and cannot afford health insurance.” – Angelique, New York City, NY

Our Child Welfare Policy Director Jennifer Pokempner recently spoke at the #SaveOurCare bus tour when it made its stop in Philadelphia to share the importance of the Medicaid to 26 provision. You can read her comments here.

Juvenile Law Center played a key role in establishing this policy – and we are prepared to fight to protect it. We’re holding a call-in day this Wednesday, February 15th. We urge you to call your lawmakers and ask them to support #Medicaidto26 on behalf of foster youth!