Health plan 101: A college prep course for parents and students

Health plan 101: A college prep course for parents and students

Stocking up on dorm decorations and getting ready to move are just a couple of things to do before students head to campus this fall. It’s such a busy time, parents can easily forget to coach their kids about the basics of using their health care plans and knowing what to do when they need care or prescriptions when they’re away from home.

Here are some pointers and a checklist that’ll help you talk to your kids about their health care before the big send-off.

Pack insurance card, medications
Make sure students have a copy of their health insurance card and medications they need to take to school. You might also consider preparing a first aid kit with essentials like bandages, pain relievers and cold and flu medications.

Be ready to use online tools
Students can register for their online account to see their coverage information and track claims. If they have an iPhone® or Android™ smartphone, they can download our mobile app. They can log in to their account and order a copy of their ID card. When logged in, they can pull up a virtual ID card with their phone. They can even shop for health and fitness deals on our member discounts page.

Discuss how health insurance works
Health insurance can be confusing at times, especially if your student hasn’t used their plan on their own before. Talk about which type of coverage your student has and go over common health insurance terms such as copayment, deductible and coinsurance, so they know what to expect.

Make sure students know where to go
Most health plans cover eligible care in an emergency, regardless of whether a student is away at school or home for the holidays. But when it’s not an emergency, what’s covered and how much care costs depends on the plan and network type. If the school has a campus health center, check to see if your plan is accepted. You can also search for local urgent care and emergency room locations online or with the mobile app, and discuss when they should (and shouldn’t) go to these facilities. When students do get medical treatment, they should also request a copy of their medical records be sent to their primary care doctor.

Write down important phone numbers
Make a list of important phone numbers relating to your student’s medical care. These might include your primary care physician, emergency contacts and any on-campus health resources. Blue Cross members receive access to a 24-hour nurse line. PPO members can call 1-800-775-BLUE (2583) and HMO members contact 1-855-624-5214.

For more information about health coverage for your college student, visit bcbsm.com.

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Photo Credit: CCAC North Library

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2015 has been updated from its original version.

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