Former Foster Youths and Health Care: What they need to know
By: Kristine Alarcon
Laticia Aossey, a young woman who grew up in the foster care system, was a student at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. When she got sick, with cyclical vomiting, acid reflux, and stomach ulcers, she was admitted into the hospital. That’s when Aossey found out she did not have health insurance.
She would have been eligible for health insurance, but Aossey did not receive the notification right away. Her paper work was sent at a friend’s house since she used that address instead of her college one.
When Aossey was in the hospital, she did her best to figure out why she didn’t have health coverage. Aossey called andwas told she could not be the one to make the call. They require an adult, such as her caseworker or her boss, to make the call.
A few days later, a caseworker helped her with the paperwork. Sshe believes it would have been easier to handle if she was had prior knowledge of the papers.
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Aossey urges other foster youth to find and do their paperwork and not rely on others to do it for them.
Not very many children who grow up out of the foster care system know that they are eligible for healthcare. Under the Affordable Care Act, foster children who “age out” of the system can receive Medicaid until they are 26-years-old, regardless of income.
The federal government has sufficient funds needed for Medicaid and the law requires states to provide former foster youths the aid they need. However, “21 states chose not to expand their Medicaid programs under Obamacare” (Glier). On the other hand, it can be easier for those who age out of foster care to get coverage in other states. New York and California automatically enroll former foster youths.
There are also organizations that are providing help for the foster youth.
In New York City, the Jewish Child Care Association provides aid to youths of all religious backgrounds and helps prepare teens in foster care to be independent.
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Children Now, an advocacy organization, runs the Covered til 26 campaign. They try to remedy any issues in the system. Some foster youths may not receive their paperwork for Medicaid because of coding issues. They also provide support for health issues, incarceration, changing addresses, and any questions about eligibility.
For states that do not provide automatic enrollment, there are not any means to track down the children who grew out of the foster care system. No one reaches out to them either.
Kristine Alarcon is certified in Sterile Processing and Distribution and is pursing a Masters in Public Health at Drexel University. She is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.
Glier, Ray. “Many Former Foster Youths Don’t Know They Have Health Care.” NPR . Retrieved on October 3, 2015. http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/10/01/444779762/many-former-foster-youths-dont-know-they-have-health-care