“This post was sponsored by Unity Consortium as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.”

Do you have a teenager who is heading off to college this fall or moving out of the house soon? Last fall, my daughter headed off to college and wasn’t fully prepared to start making decisions about her own health care needs. As a parent, the teenage years are the best time to start teaching them the ropes of adulthood especially taking care of their own health care. Teenagers are often used to their parents making the decisions for them including their health care needs. When my daughter went off to college, she quickly learned that she had no clue how to deal with things like getting sick, vaccinations, and preventative care.

Teenagers are often used to their parents making the decisions for them including all of their health care needs. When my daughter went off to college, she quickly learned that she had no clue how to deal with things like getting sick, vaccinations, preventative care, and other things that impacted her health.

My daughter quickly learned that she had no clue how to deal with things like getting sick, vaccinations, shopping for personal care items, sex, drinking, mental health, time-management, and more. Now that mom or dad wasn’t there to tell her what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, she had to figure it out all on her own.

6 Important Topics to Help Your Teenager Take Charge of Their Own Health Before They Move Out

My daughter quickly learned that she had no clue how to deal with things like getting sick, vaccinations, shopping for personal care items, sex, drinking, mental health, time-management, and more. Now that mom or dad wasn’t there to tell her what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, she had to figure it out all on her own.

If your teenager has already gone off to college or moved out, it isn’t too late to discuss these topics with them. However, you can’t take the time to show them important things such as making a doctors appointment, how to use their health insurance plan, how to fill prescriptions or their previous vaccination schedule. Here is a guide to help you teach your teenager these important topics so that your teenager can start taking charge of their own health before they move out.

Here is a guide to help you teach your teenager these important topics so that your teenager can start taking charge of their own health before they move out.

Scheduled a Doctor’s Appointment

Does your teenager know who their primary care doctor is and how to schedule an appointment? My daughter didn’t have a clue who her doctor was or how to schedule an appointment. She was deaf so it was a bit harder to explain this to her.

Now that my oldest son is 16, this is something that I plan on teaching him how to scheduled appointments. It is important that he knows how to schedule a doctors appointment with his primary care doctor and a specialist in case he needs to see a doctor for a specific condition.

How to Use Health Insurance

Health insurance is a touchy subject for many families but your teenager needs to learn how to use it. There are so many terms such as EBO, HMO, PPO, PCP, Deductibles, Co-pays, out of pocket expenses, referrals, and more for them to understand. Next time you head to the doctor, use this as a learning experience to talk to your teen about using their health insurance.

6 Important Topics to Help Your Teenager Take Charge of Their Own Health Before They Move Out

Once you leave the doctor’s office, explain the behind the scenes terms that I listed above so that they understand how the insurance world works. Don’t forget to show them the insurance card and explain all of the information on it. You can even show them an Explanation of benefits too. All of the insurance information will likely to confuse them but it is something that they need to understand how to use.

Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to let your teenager do the talking at their next doctor’s appointment so that they can be comfortable dealing with the office staff and financial portion of the visit. Stand there with them so that you can coach them if they run into any issues.

What to Do When They Get Sick or Injured?

Does your teenager know what to do if they get sick or injured while away from home? Last fall, my daughter got sick for the first time so she messaged me on Facebook because she had no clue what she needed to do. It was my fault that she didn’t have a clue about dealing with an illness on her own. She got accustomed to me handling all of her care and didn’t know how to even call her doctor for an appointment.

With healthcare costs on the rise, you want your child to know how to look for cost savings on their medical care whenever possible. You don’t want them to end up in the ER unless absolutely necessary. Next time your teenager is ill, show them the steps that you take to get them seen by the doctor quickly.

6 Important Topics to Help Your Teenager Take Charge of Their Own Health Before They Move Out

I always contact my teenager’s primary care doctor to schedule an sick visit first. If they don’t have an opening, then I decide if they can wait until their doctor has an opening or if they need to be seen immediately. Depending on the severity of the problem, I determine if I can take them to urgent care or use a telehealth service.

It is important to teach them that the emergency room should be used if the illness or injury is severe. Limiting emergency room visits will dramatically reduce your out of pocket expenses too.

Preventative Care

Preventative care can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and catch problems before they become a huge issue. The great news is most of the preventative services now covered by insurance companies due to the Affordable Care Act as long as you are seen by an in-network provider. You no longer have to worry about deductibles, co-pays, or coinsurance fees, when you are seen at the doctor just for preventative services.

Do check with your health care provider or insurance company to determine which services are considered preventative care if you want to avoid additional out of pocket expenses. Catching a disease or problem early can help save you money in the long run. Remember it is possible for teenagers and young adults to encounter problems too.

Vaccinations

6 Important Topics to Help Your Teenager Take Charge of Their Own Health Before They Move Out

Did you know that teens and some parents feel that vaccinations are for babies only? This simply is an untrue myth. The CDC recommends that teenagers be protected from HPV, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Whooping Cough), Meningitis (this vaccination is required if your teenager plans on living in the dorms), and the Flu.

  • Approximately 1 in 4 parents and teens believe that vaccines are more important for babies and not as important for teens
  • More than one-third of teens (34%) don’t know how being vaccinated helps them
  • Four in 10 parents (41%) believe their teen should only see a doctor when he/she feels sick, reducing opportunities to discuss preventive health measures, such as vaccines
  • While most teens (92%) trust their doctor when seeking information about their health, nearly half of all teens (47%) agree they do not like talking to doctors or other healthcare providers.
  • Adolescent immunization is a central part of adolescent health and is one of the best investments you can make to your teens’ long-term health.  Make sure all adolescents are up to date with their vaccinations.

As one strong voice, Unity Consortium addresses the challenges surrounding adolescent and young adult health, with a goal of ensuring 9 in 10 are fully vaccinated against preventable diseases. For more information, visit Unity4TeenVax.org. You can also find Unity Consortium on Facebook and Twitter.

More Resources from Unity Consortium

  • Survey press release here.
  • Attached Infographic below.
Unity-Infographic-Survey-July-2017

Prescription Costs

Many health plans also cover the cost of prescriptions; however, depending on your specific health plan the cost of the medications can greatly vary. Always teach your teenager to ask for generics whenever possible. Generic drugs are equivalent to the brand name drug without the huge bill at the pharmacy counter.

When generic prescriptions aren’t available, if you don’t have a specific copay for brand name or non-formulary drug costs, don’t be afraid to shop around, use money saving apps on prescriptions, or find coupons from the manufacturer.

Have you taught your teenagers how to take charge of their own health yet? If the answer is no, now is the perfect time to start having these important discussions with your child the next time you need to schedule them a doctors appointment or pick up their prescriptions.

Did you know how to take charge of your own health care needs after you headed off to college or moved out of your parent’s house? Do you feel that your teenager should start taking charge of their own health care needs with your guidance?