Parents, you may have been handling most health matters for your high school teen but now is the time to hand over the reins. Here's how to equip your beginning college student for this new responsibility.
1. Schedule all medical checkups.
Better yet, have your teens do this. Think physician, dentist, eye doctor, OBGYN, and any specialists. Your students should do this early enough so there is time for follow up appointments as needed before their departure--and make sure they ask for extra prescriptions for refills as needed.
"Schedule Health Care Appointments Before Starting College"
2. Secure local specialists.
If your teens will need regular appointments with specialists (for monitoring of any chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma), have them ask their current doctor for names of providers in their college town/city. They should also reach out to the college's health center to see what services they offer on campus or if they have recommendations as well. Then your student should schedule a first appointment with these specialists, as there may be a wait time for new patients.
3. Know where to get urgent care.
Your teens should have a backup option to their college's student health center, in case it's off hours or there's a long wait. When it comes to minor concerns such as a strep test, they should know where the closest urgent care facility is near campus (such as CVS Minute Clinic). And while they're at it, have them find out how they'd get to the closest ER.
4. Make a plan for continued therapy.
If your teens see a mental health care provider on a regular basis, have them make a plan to keep in touch remotely, via Skype or phone or email. If their therapist does not do this or your teens need in-person care, they should ask their therapist for help in finding a suitable provider on or near campus. Many colleges include a number of counseling sessions as part of their fees, so make sure to understand that option as well.
"Finding a Therapist for Your College Student: What Parents Need to Know"
"Off to College with Mental Illness: How to Prepare"
5. Understand your health care coverage.
If your teens are covered under a parent's plans, make sure they have your own copies of health, dental, and vision insurance cards and that they understand what is covered, co-pay fees, and how to use any prescription plans. Keep in mind some plans require participants to notify them if they are moving out of state so a phone call can't hurt.
They should also know how they will get refills on current prescriptions or fill new ones. If they will be using a pharmacy (vs. mail order) for their refills, have them locate one on or near campus and ask their local pharmacy to transfer their prescription records.
If your teens are not covered under a parent's health plan, they should purchase their own plan through their college or an independent provider. Some colleges automatically enroll their students in their health plan and charge for this as part of their fees.
"6 Health Insurance Options for College Students"
6. Know your own and your family's health history.
Help your teens create a written record of their personal and family health history, medications, and allergies/conditions. They should keep this record secure yet accessible for any health care visits.
"Family Health History and Your Child"
7. Meet college requirements.
Make sure your teens provide their health records and proof of physical/immunizations to their colleges as needed.
For more, check out Moving to College: What to Do, What to Learn, What to Pack.
Practical Resources include:
A step-by-step list of things to do, from decision to move-in day, such as:
• Booking hotel rooms ASAP for parents' weekend
• Securing scholarship money to close financial aid gaps
• Understanding your health plan options and HIPAA waivers
The life skills every student should learn before leaving home, including:
• Staying safe and handling a medical emergency
• Managing expenses and staying on a budget
• Handling common roommate problems
The most comprehensive college packing list, for every category, featuring:
• Dorm life essentials and what's a waste of money
• Extensive product information and reviews
• Packing and move-in day tips to ensure a stress-free move
Hundreds of resources, with links at your fingertips, including:
• The best stores for college dorm shopping, with tips on student discounts
• Where to buy, rent, and sell textbooks so you never pay full price
• Great books, websites, and blogs for both students and parents