The 2018 open enrollment period for health insurance begins November 1, 2017 and goes through December 15th. Let’s make sure everyone who is eligible signs up for the health insurance they need to stay healthy.
National Adoption Month also begins November 1st, and we must remember those children who were never adopted. Compared to youth in permanent families, youth who age out of foster care have disproportionately high rates of serious physical, mental, and behavioral health issues. They are more likely to have health issues that affect their day-to-day functioning and more likely to need psychological and substance abuse counseling. Many youth formerly in foster care live at or below the poverty line and often experience homelessness within a year of leaving foster care. Young adults who have aged out of foster care cannot afford to purchase health coverage or incur medical debt – they need to have access to quality services to address chronic health issues.
As advocates, we can encourage and support former foster youth in their efforts to enroll in health insurance. Medicaid coverage is a benefit for former foster youth who aged out of care between the ages of 18-21 and until they turn 26. This coverage will help this high-risk population receive health benefits, including those highlighted below:
- Medical care, including for chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes
- Vision exams and vision wear
- Substance abuse treatment, such as detox and outpatient services
- Mental health treatment and counseling
- Dental coverage
Since January 1st of 2014, the Department for Medicaid Services (DMS) and Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) ensure youth exiting the foster care system know they are eligible to continue Medicaid coverage and assist them in the enrollment process when they leave the state’s care.