For once a belief some people have about foster care is actually true: not every child who comes into foster care has Medicaid. Albeit, most of them do enter the system on Medicaid…but not all of them.
But before anyone panics and thinks that you shouldn’t be a foster parent simply because the child might not have health insurance, please keep reading! There are a couple situations about which you should be aware; they are not terribly common and honestly they aren’t a big deal, but in an attempt at full-disclosure, I wanted to share them with you.
Now, every once in a blue moon, a child comes into care who is on private insurance paid through their biological family. In that instance, the child remains on the private insurance (even while in the care of a foster home) and the coverage is at the expense of the biological parent.
The other situation I wanted to mention, and this occurs more often than a child on private insurance, is that an undocumented child will come into care. In that instance, the State will not provide Medicaid coverage. However, while a DCS case is open and the child is in a foster home, DCS will cover the medical expenses…but it is NOT Medicaid.
So bottom line: even if a child does not have insurance (or does not have Medicaid, as many people presume they will), there will be NO COST to foster parents for medical coverage for the child.
As an aside, in addition to medical appointments, testing, surgeries and procedures, Medicaid will also cover behavioral and mental health needs. And contrary to what you may have heard, medical service providers cannot “balance bill” for the remainder of a bill if Medicaid does not pay the full amount. Those providers have agreements with Medicaid that they will accept what Medicaid is willing to pay and the patient (or in this instance, the foster parents) will not be billed for the remaining amount. If you are ever balance billed (and I have been, so I know it does happen sometimes), all you have to do is call the billing office for the provider and remind them they can’t balance bill Medicaid patients. They typically give you no hassle and rectify the situation over the phone.
Hope this clears up any confusion…especially if your concerns over medical coverage were stopping you from making that call to sign up for foster care licensing.