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April 2013Vol. 14, No. 3Health-Care Issues for Transitioning Youth

Despite having three to seven times more chronic health or behavioral/mental health issues than youth in the general population, youth in foster care are half as likely to have health insurance compared to their peers. An article in Pediatrics describes the obstacles that transitioning youth face when trying to address health-care needs.

In recent years, provisions within a number of health-care laws have provided a range of supports to youth exiting care, and the article describes the Federal Government's efforts to provide youth with access to health care. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, for example, requires States to work with youth to develop a transition plan that includes securing health insurance. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, beginning in 2014, extends Medicaid eligibility to age 26 for youth aging out of foster care.

The article highlights future challenges and provides recommendations for physicians and pediatricians working with child welfare agencies, including the following:

  • Be informed about State programs that provide health-care coverage to older youth in foster care and those transitioning out of care
  • Educate transitioning youth about the eligibility extension for Medicaid coverage to age 26
  • Help young adult patients transfer health records, understand health issues, and link them with a adult primary care physicians and, as needed, mental health, reproductive health, and dental services

"Health Care of Youth Aging Out of Foster Care," by P. Jaudes, was published in Pediatrics, 130(6), 2012, and is available on the American Academy of Pediatrics website: