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Home > Practice Areas > Health Care Services for Children in Out-of-Home Care > Critical Issues


Health Insurance & Child Welfare Factsheet

Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)

Children in foster care are eligible for Medicaid. If, and when, they are reunited with their biological families, they continue to be covered by Medicaid unless they are specifically determined to be ineligible. Children whose biological families have income or assets beyond the Medicaid limits may be eligible for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP-formerly known as CHIP). SCHIP is free or low-cost health insurance for children in families who either cannot afford private insurance or earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. All 50 states and the District of Columbia now have State Children's Health Insurance Programs in place.

The Need for Health Care Coverage

The availability of health services is critical to every family, but especially critical for families involved with the child welfare system. The gravity and extent of the health care problems facing abused and neglected children are truly alarming. Accessible, affordable, quality health and mental health care services can address problems that, left untreated, can explode into devastating family and community problems. Assisting parents to get health insurance for their children could prevent those children from needing the child welfare system again or help reunite or achieve permanency for these children. Medicaid and SCHIP are valuable resources for families, but a resource that too few families are aware is available to them. Public and private child welfare agencies touch the lives of millions of children and families each year and, potentially, could help enroll thousands of eligible children in Medicaid and SCHIP.

Facts about uninsured children

  • Almost 10 million children lack health insurance coverage, and 1 in 5 of these uninsured children have no regular source of health care.

  • Roughly 70 percent of all uninsured children in the United States now qualify for public health coverage through Medicaid or SCHIP.

  • As many as 4.7 million uninsured children are eligible for Medicaid but not enrolled.

  • Uninsured children are 30 percent more likely than insured children to fall behind on well-child care and 80 percent more likely to never have had routine care.

  • Uninsured children are more likely not to have received medical care for common conditions, like asthma-illnesses that if left untreated can lead to more serious health problems.

Facts about SCHIP

  • Although eligibility standards vary by state, children through age 18 in working families of four earning up to $32,900 a year can qualify.

  • Most SCHIP plans cover regular checkups, immunizations, eyeglasses, doctor visits, prescription drug coverage, and hospital care.

Find out more about Medicaid and SCHIP in your state:

  • Call the INSURE KIDS NOW! national toll-free hotline at 1-877-KIDS-NOW (1-877-543-7669) to be connected to your state's hotline (for state-specific information, applications forms, and referrals) or visit the website at

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