Turning 18 years old can be both exciting and scary. It’s exciting to wake up on your 18th birthday knowing you can take charge of your life and make your own decisions. And technically you don’t need your parent/guardian’s permission to do anything. But it is also scary to know that as a legal adult, you are fully responsible for your actions.
Among the many new rights you gain as an 18 year old, you will be able to make all the decisions about your medical care. As a minor in California, you already have the right to access sexual and reproductive health care, mental health, and other sensitive medical services without your parent’s permission. But, your parents are still responsible for your other health care needs. Once you turn 18, you become fully responsible for your health needs.
Turning 18 can also impact your health insurance coverage. Whether you have private health insurance coverage through your parents, have Medi-Cal, or don’t have any coverage, below are some things to consider before or soon after you turn 18. Some of your options will depend on your immigration status and income.
Health coverage through your parents
If you have private health insurance through your parents or guardians right now, you can stay on their health plan until your 26th birthday. Make sure to place a confidential communications request with your health insurance plan so they don’t share your private medical information with your parent/guardian! Learn more here about how you can take action to keep your private information confidential.
Coverage through student health plans
Most 4-year colleges and universities provide free or low-cost health services to students. If you are headed off to college, make sure to learn about coverage options through your school’s student health plan.
Medi-Cal provides FREE health services to low-income people. It covers all medical services, including birth control, abortion care, and STD testing and treatment. Adults need to meet certain immigration and income requirements to be eligible, but there is no immigration requirement for children and young adults under the age of 19. If you have Medi-Cal right now, here are some things you should know once you turn 18:
If you are a U.S. Citizen, have DACA status or other eligible-non citizen status, you may be able to stay on Med-Cal, depending on you or your family’s income. You can check your eligibility here.
If you are, or have been in the foster care system, you can stay on Medi-Cal until your 26th birthday no matter how much income you earn.
If you are undocumented and don’t have DACA status, you can stay on Medi-Cal until your 19th birthday. After that you can only use Medi-Cal for hospital emergency care or pregnancy-related services if you meet the income requirements. You can get free sexual and reproductive health care through the Family PACT program and visit a local community health center to get regular check-ups and other services at a low-cost.
Don’t have insurance?
If for some reason, you do not have health insurance right now, you can at least get free sexual and reproductive health services through the Family PACT program and other low-cost health services at a community health center near you. Once you turn 18, you can check to see if you are eligible for Medi-Cal depending on your income and immigration status. If you are a U.S. Citizen or have documented immigration status, and meet certain income requirements, you can also purchase affordable health insurance through the Covered California website.
Whatever your health insurance coverage status or age, now is a good time to #ownyourhealth. Find a clinic near you for FREE + CONFIDENTIAL essential health services.