Check into health-care options as students head off to college

Special to the Herald-LeaderAugust 18, 2013 

It's August, which means back to school for students of all ages, including college students.

You might have a student going away for their first year of college, or a seasoned college student. Do you know what to do if your student needs to visit a health care provider?

Here are some tips:

 Check to see if your student's college or university has a student health center. This is often an easy, convenient, and inexpensive health care option for students.

 If your student does not have a student health center available, check with your insurance provider to see if there are local health care providers in town that are covered by your insurance.

 Talk to your health insurance company about providing coverage for your student while college. Depending on your plan, your son or daughter might be out of network while they are away at school. Your student's college might offer a reasonably priced health insurance plan that offers local coverage. Compare plans to see what will be the most economical and convenient for coverage.

 Provide your student with information about their health history. They will need to know this information when they visit a new health care provider.

 Your student should also have a copy (or a picture on their phone) of their immunizations record. This will allow a clinician to recommend any other necessary vaccines and see which vaccines might need a booster over their college career.

 Give your student a copy of your insurance card (or keep a picture of it on their cell phone).

 Make sure your student knows the medications they are taking. This will help a clinician coordinate their medical care.

 If your student has any allergies (to medications, foods, or plants), make sure they know that information and will share it with a health care provider. If your student requires an EpiPen, talk to your current clinician about how to refill this prescription as necessary.

Your student might also want to talk to someone on campus about the best way to store their medications.

 Send a first aid kit to college that includes: a thermometer, over-the-counter medicines (for pain relief, upset stomach, colds and allergies), first-aid cream and bandages, antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer and simple instructions for everyday illnesses.

 Have a plan for your student to be able to obtain their prescription medication. Either identify a pharmacy that is conveniently located in their college town, or arrange for a prescription mail service to ship directly to your student.

 Lastly, make sure your student has a list of phone numbers including their university health service or college health provider, their home physician, local emergency or urgent treatment center, and pharmacy. This will make it easier for them to find assistance if they are feeling ill.

Brandy Reeves is a health education coordinator for UK HealthCare's University Health Service.

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