Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Getting ready to send your child to college? Complete this health related check list before you wave good-bye.

Getting ready to send your child off to college? Take a few moments to think about how their health care needs will be met while they are away.

Ian 2008
Thanks to the ACA, children can stay on a parent's health care plan until they reach the age of 26. If you're covering your child on your plan, do a quick search to find in-network providers near where he or she will be attending school. If you don't find any, call your insurance company and ask if they have any affiliate networks available where you child will be attending school. If you have no in-network options, find out if you have an out-of-network benefit. It may have a separate deductible that needs to be met. This deductible may be high, but if your child can seek routine care at home and use the school's health clinic for primary care when they're away, it may serve as sort of catastrophic coverage if needed. If your child is uninsured, see the articles at the end of this post for some options.

The school's health clinic can be a good source of primary care for your student. If you're child seeks care at the student health clinic, it is likely that the visit will be covered free of charge. Well, not exactly free, there is probably a fee to support the student health clinic tacked onto the tuition bill or included as part of a comprehensive fee. Many schools will bill your insurance for lab work and any prescriptions your child might need. Keep in mind that the healthcare provided by the school is not a replacement for health insurance. It typically won't cover procedures, tests, prescriptions or any type of inpatient care.

If your child takes any maintenance medications, renew the prescriptions and set up mail order delivery at the school. You may need to call the school to confirm that they'll be able to accept delivery of prescriptions if you child is assigned a P.O. box.

Schedule any routine visits while your child is at home. You'll probably need to complete a pre-entrance health form and provide proof of vaccinations, so request this information from the doctor's office if you don't have records at home. It's also good to get in a routine of scheduling dental visits in December and June when your child is more likely to be home. Remember teeth cleanings generally have to be six months apart to be covered under your preventive care benefit.

Identify which hospitals are in-network and then pull up the city or town where your child will be and see which hospitals earned the highest scores for safety on Hospital Safety Score. If you don't find any in-network options, the ACA specifies out-of-network emergency services must be covered as follows:
if a group health plan or health insurance coverage provides any benefits for emergency services in an emergency department of a hospital, the plan or issuer must cover emergency services without regard to whether a particular health care provider is an in-network provider with respect to the services, and generally cannot impose any copayment or coinsurance that is greater than what would be imposed if services were provided in network. At the same time, the statute does not require plans or issuers to cover amounts that out-of-network providers may "balance bill"
If your child decides to travel abroad, consider purchasing international medical insurance for the time he or she will be out of the country. You can learn more in this post -- 10 Health Care Tips for Travel.

Your child's school should provide all the information you need on its' website, but this list should give you a head start. If you think of anything I overlooked, please leave a note in the comment section below.

Health Care Essentials -- 
A check list for college students.
Connor 2013

  • Complete any required pre-entrance health forms. This is likely to require providing proof of immunizations (see list below), but not necessarily a physical for most students. Student athletes will probably be required to have a physical and complete additional paperwork. 
  • Find in-network medical providers near the school. If none are available, find out if you have any out-of-network benefits.
  • Make sure routine dental care is up-to-date.
  • Refill any prescriptions and arrange to have maintenance medications delivered by mail-order to the school address or transfer prescriptions to the student health clinic.
  • Make sure your child has these items in his/her wallet.
    • Insurance card
    • Student ID Card
    • List of medications taken routinely
    • List of any medications he/she is allergic to
    • Primary care physician's contact information
  • Confirm your child has these apps on his/her phone.
    • Your health insurance companies' app. If you're with UnitedHealthcare, it's Health4Me. Make sure your student has the login information
    • Hospital Safety Score to find the safest hospital whenever and wherever they need it.
    • ADA - Your Health Guide- searching health topics by symptom
  • Put together a first aid kit (see list below.)
  • If you student wears contact lenses, it's a good idea to have a back up pair of eyeglasses and pack a copy of his or her current prescriptions.
  • Contact the student health center to notify the school of any serious pre-existing conditions your student has including any mental health issues. 
  • Pack a copy of important medical records. 
  • Pack an EpiPen if prescribed and an updated prescription for additional medication if needed.
  • Students that are diabetic should have adequate quantities of supplies for glucose monitoring and insulin administration. Check with the student health center to find out about disposal of needles and syringes.
  • If your student will be using a bicycle, be sure to pack a helmet.

    • Vaccinations:

      My youngest son attends UVA and this is what they require. I think it's fairly typical. Medical and nursing students will likely have additional requirements. You should get a list of what's required at your child's school during orientation. You should also be able to look it up on the school's website. Look for a student health section. 

      My sons always give me a hard time about getting a flu shot, but I do my best to drag them to the CVS Minute Clinic for a flu vaccine. Having the flu when you're in college is particularly miserable. Especially if you live in a dorm. The school health clinic may offer the flu vaccine. You can also check with your health insurer to see where the vaccine is covered near your child's school.

      First aid kit for college students:

      I felt better sending our sons off with a first aid kit. My oldest son sent his home fully intact after college (expired soup cans and all.) At least, I bought myself some piece of mind.

      • Adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
      • Adhesive tape (1" wide)
      • Antacids
      • Antibiotic ointment
      • Antihistamine (diphenhydramine hydrochloride - generic for Benadryl)
      • Antiseptic wipes
      • Can or two of chicken noodle soup (pull top or be sure to include a can opener)
      • Cold Pack (disposable)
      • Cough drops
      • Cotton roll and balls
      • Cotton-tipped swabs
      • Decongestant (pseudoephedrine hydrochloride - generic for Sudafed)
      • Digital thermometer
      • Elastic bandage (3" wide) (Ace wrap)
      • Flashlight (and extra batteries)
      • Gauze pads
      • Pain relief medicine (aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen)
      • Scissors
      • Tissues
      • Sunscreen
      • Hydrocortisone cream

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