For youth and young adults 18 to 24 years old experiencing homelessness, health insurance coverage — typically through Medicaid — is critical. During this important developmental period, youth and young adults experiencing homelessness often struggle to meet basic needs like food and shelter. As a result, they are at higher risk for further victimization, trauma, and high-risk behaviors that can lead to poor health. Further, the social inequities, adverse experiences, and financial strains that youth and young adults face prior to and during homelessness can lead to an increased risk of mental health, substance use disorders, and physical health issues, having wide-ranging negative consequences.
Direct cash transfers for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness offer promise for providing a pathway out of homelessness to stability and thriving. Direct cash transfers can positively impact a range of health and social outcomes for low-income individuals and households. To achieve systemic and sustainable solutions, jurisdictions must navigate designing cash transfer programs to ensure that access to other public benefits, including Medicaid, are not jeopardized by youths’ increased income.
This report, developed by the Center for Health Care Strategies in partnership with Chapin Hall, provides a summary of Medicaid eligibility for young people, describes the potential impact of direct cash transfers on Medicaid benefits, and outlines how state and local agencies can address risks to Medicaid benefits when implementing cash transfer programs. The report is part of a toolkit, Maximizing Impact of Direct Cash Transfers to Young People, created by Chapin Hall through support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, that examines the complexities of cash transfer implications for youth and young adults.