Teach Kids to Manage Their Health Care
Tips for parents of college-age students
For parents with college-age children, there’s a fairly standard set of basics that helps ensure their children are ready to tackle the world with some degree of independence. But beyond school supplies, housing, food and transportation, one important consideration remains: health care.
As a parent, ensuring your young adult is equipped to take charge of his own health can be a daunting task. That’s why it’s important to have a conversation with your college students about their local health service options before the need arises. Together you can do some research and discuss the answers to these questions:
What is your health coverage? Take time to brush up on (or introduce your child) to your family’s health insurance policy and understand how your policy covers various facilities. This is an opportunity to teach about co-pays and deductibles, and what it means when a physician or facility is considered in-network and out-of-network.
Do you already pay to use the student health center? In some cases, student fees include access to the campus student health center and your separate health insurance may not be necessary. However, it’s important to understand what the student fee covers and where there may be gaps, such as dental care.
What are the local options for health care? You’ll rest easier with the assurance that the medical care available to your students is of the highest quality. Many colleges and universities take the extra step of achieving accreditation by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), the nation’s leading accreditor of student health services, to affirm that the care they provide is at nationally recognized standards. You can find accredited organizations at aaahc.org or inquire about accreditation at your university medical center.
Where is the student center located? Encourage your student to set up a well appointment at the student health clinic to get a file started. Not only will this ensure your child can find the center when need arises, having an established patient profile cuts down on paperwork when there’s an emergent health concern. This is particularly helpful for students with medical issues or restrictions because they can be logged in advance for easy recall.
Which other medical practitioners are in the area? There may be any number of reasons your student needs to be seen off campus, so it’s a smart idea to look for AAAHC accreditation when trying to assess the quality of nearby health care alternatives. Make a short list with office hours and phone numbers for future reference.
Where is the best local hospital? Devise an emergency plan for urgent needs and be sure your student knows how to get to the closest urgent care center and hospital, as well as when to use each one. If possible, visit the facilities in person so your child can get familiar with the facility and learn where to go and how to check in without the pressure of a crisis situation.
By approaching the topic of your college student’s health care together, you can help ensure your child has the information necessary to begin managing personal care. In the process, you can also be assured that you’re identifying health centers that share your commitment to the very best care for both the mind and body of your student.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images