The Affordable Care Act Ensures Former Foster Youth Receive Critical Health Coverage Until Age 26

Children Now Launches Campaign to Promote Awareness and Increase Enrollment of Former Foster Youth in Medi-Cal

February 19, 2014

Source Link:  http://www.fortmilltimes.com/2014/02/19/3297938/the-affordable-care-act-ensures.html

OAKLAND, CALIF. — Children Now today announced the launch of Coveredtil26, a statewide outreach campaign to ensure all former foster youth living in California know they are now eligible for Medi-Cal coverage until age 26. Previously, Medi-Cal coverage for former foster youth ended at age 21.

Although the Affordable Care Act provision extending health coverage to former foster youth took full effect on January 1, 2014, the majority of young adults who benefit from this new provision are not yet aware of this exciting opportunity. The Coveredtil26 campaign provides advocates, youth, and stakeholders with the necessary tools to learn about this new benefit and navigate enrollment barriers.

Each year, over 20,000 youth age out of the foster care system in the United States. In California alone, between 2,700 and 5,000 youth age out of foster care every year. These vulnerable youth too often lack adequate supports to make the transition to adulthood successfully. For example, they are much less likely than their peers to have health insurance, but tend to have more health care needs due to trauma experienced during childhood.

“The Affordable Care Act’s extension of health coverage to age 26 fills a critical need for former foster youth who do not have the same option as their peers to stay on a parent’s insurance plan,” said Ted Lempert, President of Children Now. “However, it’s imperative that state and county agencies work together to ensure the processes for enrolling in coverage are easy to navigate for this vulnerable population.”

Children Now is working closely with the Department of Health Care Services, county social service agencies, and the County Welfare Directors Association (CWDA) to simplify enrollment processes for former foster youth and educate enrollment workers about this important ACA provision.

“Making sure that former foster youth can get the health care services they need and deserve is a high priority for the state,” said Anastasia Dodson, associate director of the California Department of Health Care Services, which oversees the Medi-Cal program. “We are committed to work with our county partners, other state agencies, and advocates to ensure that these youth can promptly and easily enroll in Medi-Cal coverage.”

Currently, the best way for former foster youth to enroll in coverage is to apply directly through a county social service agency office using a simple one-page form.

“Providing Medi-Cal coverage up to age 26 is one more way we recognize that many former foster youth who are transitioning into adulthood need continued support, including access to health care,” said Frank Mecca, CWDA Executive Director. “This is a great change, and our county social service agencies are diligently working to ensure eligible youth do not miss out on this opportunity.”

Former foster youth qualify for Medi-Cal coverage until age 26 if they:

 

  • Were in foster care in any state at age 18 or older,
  • Are younger than 26 years old, and
  • Live in California now.

 

Youth are eligible for Medi-Cal coverage regardless of income. Because there is no open enrollment period for Medi-Cal, former foster youth can apply any time of the year.

For more information on the extension of Medi-Cal coverage for former foster youth and the Coveredtil26 campaign visit www.coveredtil26.org.

Children Now is the leading, nonpartisan, umbrella research, policy development, and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting children’s health and education in California and creating national media policies that support child development. The organization also leads The Children’s Movement of California.

The Coveredtil26 campaign is funded by a grant from The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF). Created in 1992 as a private independent foundation, TCWF’s mission is to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education, and disease prevention.

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California Health Insurance Enrollments Rise, but Hispanics Still Lag

By IAN LOVETT

FEB. 19, 2014

Source Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/20/us/california-health-insurance-enrollments-rise-but-hispanics-still-lag.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

LOS ANGELES — With six weeks left in the open enrollment period for insurance under President Obama’s health care law, more than 828,000 Californians have signed up for private coverage through the state’s online health care exchange, state officials announced Wednesday.

Home to about 15 percent of the nation’s uninsured, California accounted for more than 20 percent of the 3.3 million people who enrolled in plans nationwide under the new law, the Affordable Care Act, during the first four months of open enrollment. About a quarter of the state’s enrollees have been young adults, ages 18 to 34, on par with national rates.

Still, enrollment has lagged among California’s Latinos, who make up more than half of the state’s uninsured population, according to estimates by the California Health Care Almanac. Covered California, the state-run online marketplace for health insurance, did not offer applications in Spanish until the end of December, and a Spanish-language site was dogged by translation errors — just one of a string of problems with the exchange’s website.

Through the end of January, only 21 percent of the people who had enrolled identified themselves as Latino, up slightly from 18 percent at the end of 2013, according to the data released Wednesday.

Latinos in California signed up at a slightly faster rate in January, but Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California, said the exchange still needed to improve on Latinos’ enrollment. With six weeks left of open enrollment, Covered California has begun an aggressive campaign to beef up Latino enrollment.

“From absolutely Day 1, Latino enrollment has been probably the No. 1 priority of Covered California.” Mr. Lee said. “Have we executed perfectly? No. We’re getting better as we go, and we’re seeing results right now.”

The health care exchange plans to spend $8.2 million on Spanish-language media during the first three months of this year — more than twice what was spent from October through December. In addition, more than 4,000 Spanish-speaking enrollment counselors and insurance agents have been certified in the state.

“The key element is really promoting in-person enrollment,” Mr. Lee said, adding that the state now had “an extensive ground game in place,” referring to the enrollment counselors.

The exchange had also seen a modest uptick in sign-ups among young adults, whose enrollment is considered essential to keeping insurance premiums down because they are usually healthier and need fewer costly medical services. Mr. Lee also said he expected enrollment among young people to pick up as the March 31 deadline drew nearer.

“We are constantly doing focus groups, and a lot of guys and gals are saying they’re going to wait until the 31st to sign up,” he said. “Waiting until the last minute is certainly not preferred, but it’s not unusual.”

In addition to those who signed up for Covered California health plans, nearly 900,000 people had been deemed eligible for the state’s expandedMedicaid program, known as Medi-Cal.

More than 85 percent of enrollees in Covered California plans through January were eligible for subsidies, but Covered California did not have statistics on how many of the enrollees previously had no health coverage. About 80 percent of those who had signed up for coverage had paid their first month’s premium.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/20/us/california-health-insurance-enrollments-rise-but-hispanics-still-lag.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0