Medicaid Extension for Young Adults in Foster Care: Information for Kinship Parents

When your grandson was born and you looked into his eyes, you knew he would always hold a special place in your heart. Upon learning his parents were unable to care for him, you didn’t hesitate to step up to the plate. He’s had his challenges but has managed to overcome the largest obstacles in his life with your help, and he’s now approaching his college graduation. As this huge accomplishment is on the horizon, you are aware that he will also be aging out of foster care. You wonder if he can receive the Medicaid Extension for Young Adults (MEYA) in foster care, so he can have continued access to health care. It’s a concern worth addressing.

You remember reading that youth who age out of foster care are at a high risk for health problems and that effective health and mental services are needed to address some of the lasting impact of trauma in adulthood.You made sure he had all of the medical help he needed and have heard the stories about what happens to children who age out of foster care.

The last thing you want is for him to have no access to the health care he deserves. You’re retired and have been receiving health benefits from Medicare so you’re not able to put him on your medical plan. After all of these years of helping your grandson, a feeling of helplessness comes.

As your grandson is browsing the internet, he comes across an article that discusses the Affordable Healthcare Act that was passed by the Obama Administration and how it can help young adults in foster care.

In addition to allowing young people remain on their parent’s health insurance until age 26, the Affordable Healthcare Act recognizes that youth who leave foster care with no legal ties to a family also need access to affordable and quality health care. Under the new law, most young adults who age out of New Jersey’s foster care system may be eligible for Medicaid until they turn 26.

Medicaid Extension for Young Adults in Foster Care: Eligibility and Enrollment

Effective January 1, 2014, young adults who reached their 18th birthday on or after January 1, 2006 and were in foster care on their 18th or 21st birthdays may be eligible to receive continued medical coverage, regardless of income. This includes any youth that have aged out and are still under the age of 26. The New Jersey Medicaid benefit is only available to young adults who are, or were, in foster care in the state.

Your grandson calls the MEYA information line in New Jersey at 888.235.4766 and leaves his direct contact information. After a week passes, he gets a call back, along with an immediate review. His Division of Child Protection & Permanency (DCP&P) record is pulled up verifying his case was open when he was 18. If his case was not open at the age of 18, he would not qualify for this extension.

Because of his timeliness with reaching out about his continued Medicaid eligibility, your grandson is able to keep his current doctor and health maintenance organization (HMO). If he had waited until he aged out, there would have been a lapse in his coverage. He would have then had to take on the responsibility of either re-enrolling with his healthcare provider or finding his own via avenues like the NJ FamilyCare website.

It takes approximately two days before his benefits go into effect from the time he finishes his review. As he walks the stage at graduation, it is with an assurance that his future is not only bright but also healthy. You beam with joy as you reflect on how he never let his challenges overtake him. You’re very proud of your journey together – and you should be.

Medicaid Extension for Young Adults in Foster Care: Be Proactive

Youth in care, as well as those who have aged out, are encouraged to reach out to their local child welfare agencies to see if they qualify for this benefit.

For more information on services offered specifically in New Jersey through the Department of Children and Family (DCF), including medical care and behavioral health services, click here.

For the nationwide directory of Medicaid providers, click here.

Author: Salendria Mabrey, FAFS Communication & Development Associate

Salendria Mabrey is a Communication and Development Associate at Foster and Adoptive Family Services.

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