Health Care for Former Foster Youth

If you aged out of foster care, you are eligible for health care until age 26*

You are young - so why should you worry about health care? Well - one injury or accident could impact your finances for years. If you don't get proper health care, it could impact your employment or education. And did you know health coverage can also help with mental health - including counseling to help deal with the trauma leading to foster care (or that you may have experienced while in foster care)? There are lots of reasons to make sure you are signed up - don't delay!

Read more about the law. Scroll down to find out how to access health care in your state.

    Download FAQ for Former Foster Youth

    Eligibility Requirements:

    • Must have been in foster care when you were age 18 or older and enrolled in Medicaid while in foster care

    • Currently be under age 26

    • Living in the state where you were in foster care or move to a state that covers youth from any state

    4 Reasons to sign up:

    It's Free to You.

    You can save your money for school, rent, food, and other things you need.

    Keep Your Coverage Up to Age 26.

    Be sure to find out if you need to do anything to renew your coverage each year.

    Eligibility is NOT Based on Income.

    There are no income requirements for former foster youth*

    Your health is important! 

    If you are not healthy, it's hard to meet other goals. Good health insurance and health care helps you stay healthy.

    How is #HealthCareFFY Being Implemented in Your State?

    When it comes to providing health coverage to former foster youth, your state has several choices about how they will implement their HealthCareFFY program. We're tracking who's doing what.

    The following guide provides an overview to the features we're tracking.

    Considerations for implentation

    Read the #HealthCareFFY Issue Paper: Youth Who Relocate From Another State

    Former foster youth should be eligible for Medicaid until age 26 regardless of the state they reside.  Currently federal guidance does not mandate coverage of youth when they relocate from the state in which they were in foster care.  To cover these youth--”relocators”--states must apply for a Medicaid 1115 Waiver.  Currently, only some states have applied for Medicaid 1115 waivers to serve out of state youth.   Whether a former foster youth has insurance coverage should not depend on the state in which they live.  Youth should be able to relocate for education, a job, or to gain support from family or friends without fear of losing Medicaid. 

    There should be a federal fix to ensure young people retain coverage when moving states (note: federal legislation has been introduced, see H.R.4998 / S.1797). In the meantime, states should take action to ensure youth who relocate to their jurisdiction are covered by applying for a 1115 Waiver. 

    Watch and listen to a recording of the #HealthCareFFY Webinar below:

    Medicaid coverage under the FFY provision should be maintained until young people reach age 26 without the young adult having to take any action or submit additional information. Foster youth between ages 18 and 26 may move several times when they leave care, for school, jobs, or to be closer to family or friends. Renewal notices sent through the postal service may be missed causing a youth to lose coverage despite maintaining eligibility. Individuals should be automatically renewed unless information is presented that indicates the a young person is no longer eligible (e.g. youth has moved out of state). This, in fact, is consistent with existing federal law.  

    Because former foster youth are eligible for Medicaid until age 26 regardless of income, simplifying the application process for young people who have not maintained seamless coverage will facilitate access to health insurance.  Medicaid applications can be lengthy and require income and other information that is not required for eligibility as a FFY.  Creating a foster youth specific application or amending the general Medicaid application so that a former foster youth would not be prompted to enter information that is not required will result in more young people completing Medicaid applications and establishing eligibility.   

    Eligibility for coverage will be maintained until age 26 without the individual having to take any action or submit additional information.  Nearly all individuals in the former foster care group remain eligible until age 26 unless they move out of state or become eligible for Medicaid coverage under another program. For example, when former foster youth become pregnant or become a parent/caretaker relative they may qualify for Medicaid but under another category of coverage. 

    Development of a plan for data collection and analysis will allow child welfare and Medicaid agencies to identify youth before they age out so that action can be taken to assure coverage in the FFY group without any gaps. This should include using data to identify the number of youth who are successfully enrolled in the FFY category and continue coverage as well as to identify and target eligible youth who are not covered. Further, case-level data should be shared between the child welfare and Medicaid agencies to better understand youth enrollment. In FosterClub’s 14-state survey only 4 States reported they were tracking Medicaid to age 26 data. 

    States must have an array of outreach strategies to reach young people who are leaving the child welfare system and those who work with them so that they are aware of FFY coverage and how to maintain it.  Because young people are especially mobile, comprehensive and creative strategies must be used.  Outreach strategies include messaging, training, and communications materials that explain to youth and stakeholders FFY coverage, its importance, and all the policies and procedures to secure and maintain coverage. States should have a dedicated website or resource page that is a one-stop place for state specific info as well as contact info for someone who can help if a youth is encountering barriers.

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are providing states the option to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients through 1115 Waivers. Access to health care is impeded by work requirements; however, If states do opt to impose work requirements, former foster youth should be exempt. Imposing such a requirement treats former foster youth differently than their peers who have the support of family and can remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26 regardless of whether they work or not. 

    Spread the Word

    Share this meme across social media or in newsletters

    Flyer for Youth

    Health Care News

    About the #HealthCareFFY Campaign

    Being healthy and having health care are essential to a successful transition to adulthood.  Society, and our laws, have come to recognize this.  Under federal law, youth are able to remain on their parent’s insurance until age 26. Similarly, Medicaid provides coverage for qualifying youth who age out of foster care until they reach age 26, creating the eligibility category of Former Foster Youth (“FFY”). Policymakers recognized foster youth exiting care at age 18 or older should also have access to health care and that having health insurance was vital for that access to be a reality.

    Providing Medicaid to former foster youth until age 26 is a wise social policy that shows how we value youth and the investment we want to make in their future.  The #HealthCareFFY Campaign seeks to enlist youth, stakeholders and advocates in ensuring that all former foster youth have health insurance and access to high quality health care at least until age 26.