Chesterton Tribune



Ex-foster kids gain coverage under health overhaul

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GARY, Ind. (AP) Some 5,000 former Indiana foster children stand to gain health insurance under the federal health care overhaul.

Starting Jan. 1, states are required to allow children who have aged out of the foster care system to retain Medicaid coverage through age 26, the Post-Tribune reported ( ).

Indiana's actuarial firm, Milliman, estimates covering the former foster children will cost Indiana $3 million.

The only requirements for enrollment are that the person must have been in the Indiana foster care system when they turned 18 and had previously enrolled in Medicaid or a waiver program, said Marni Lemons, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. The coverage has no income requirement, she said.

The Indiana Department of Child Services has been contacting former foster children to inform them of their coverage eligibility, Lemons said.

The foster child provision was added to the health reform law because it is unlikely they will benefit from another provision allowing children to remain covered under their parents' health insurance until age 26, the newspaper said.

Increased access to health and mental health services is especially important for former foster children since they are more likely to face health challenges as they grow older, the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being reports.

At a Nov. 4 Gary forum on the health overhaul, Denise Dillard, Methodist Hospital's vice president of external and governmental affairs, said many young people she spoke to are eager to receive information on benefits they may receive through the law.

Under the law, foster youths must develop transition plans in the months before aging out of foster care in which they must nominate a person who can make medical decisions on their behalf.

"Students who are aging out of foster care the law is huge for those children," Dillard said. "They really wanted to know how it impacted them. They must have an attorney representing them in case they are incapacitated due to illness."



Posted 12.24.2013