Sending a kid off to college can be nerve wracking. The thought that he or she might need medical attention away from home adds an extra level of worry. The good news is you will find plenty of options if you or your student do some homework.
First, know what your insurance plan covers. Under the Affordable Care Act, dependent young adults can be covered under a parent’s insurance until age 26. But, a parent’s coverage may have specific rules if the student out-of-town or out-of-state. Alternately, some schools offer student health plans which may count toward the federal health insurance requirement. A phone call or online research can help pinpoint the best coverage for your student.
Next, walk through these options with your student. Each has its benefits and limitations.
On-Campus Health Centers
In recent years many campus health centers have enhanced their quality and services. In addition to basic primary care such as flu shots, addressing the colds and viruses that inevitably get passed around campuses, care for ongoing diagnoses such as diabetes, or treating minor injuries, many also now offer expanded behavioral health and health promotion services. Some also offer online tools and nurse advice lines to make student healthcare easier. Check the university’s online or printed materials for services offered.
Healthcare organizations and local hospitals often set up Urgent Care facilities close to campus. They can be a great solution for after-hours care, offering immediate medical attention for common illnesses and injuries such as sprains; simple broken bones; coughs, colds, flu and viruses; earaches; allergic reactions; and minor cuts needing stitches. A quick online search can tell you if there is one near campus.
Local Primary Care
If your student has any kind of chronic illness that requires routine maintenance, finding a local primary care provider may be your best bet. Your insurer may even have a list of covered physicians. With local primary care, the student gains the benefit of consistent care for issues like asthma, headaches, allergies, diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, and, a trusted practitioner for other questions that may arise while away from home.
Make sure your student knows what constitutes an emergency. This includes severe trauma from something like a car crash or fall, a severe allergic reaction, head injury, severe asthma attack or difficulty breathing, severe abdominal pain, sudden loss of vision or other sudden impairment. These tips can help you and your student assess which care to use to avoid a shockingly high bill for something that could have been handled elsewhere.
For more assistance, talk to your or your student’s primary care physician for additional suggestions and advice.