Health Resources

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Welcome to AANP’s Health Resources page, which was designed with the needs of health care consumers in mind. Visit this page often to access timely health information and to learn more about the nurse practitioner role.

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HealthyU: Preparing Yourself and Your Family for a Healthy College Start

While generally considered an enjoyable and enlightening few years, college can be a stressful time for both parents and students. This may be the first time students take the reins of managing their health care, on a college campus or a study-abroad setting.  Transitioning providers, prescriptions and in some cases, health insurance may seem like a daunting undertaking. Uncertainty about the future of the nation’s health care system only adds to the anxiety about a young person’s first time living on his or her own.

Fortunately, there are information and resources available to help prepare college students and their parents during these uncertain times. See our “HealthyU” back to school guide below with tips and resources designed to help you better prepare and make informed decisions when it comes to you and your family’s health.

Know Your School’s Health Requirements

Colleges and universities tend to make their own decisions on health requirements for students. Many schools, however, will have similar requirements – that students have certain immunizations and medical records up to date, that students have proof of a physical exam in the last year, or that they list all medication they currently take.

Before arriving on campus, students should register for their student health portal (if available) and upload immunization and other health records required by the school.

Check with your college or university to see what health care documentation they require. You can find immunization requirements (and exemptions) by state, as well as recommended immunizations for college-age adults from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Check Your Insurance Conditions, Restrictions, and Requirements

Many colleges and universities now require students to maintain health insurance, and under the Affordable Care Act, students who don’t maintain coverage may face a penalty.  Maintaining insurance helps safeguard that students and their families won’t face serious financial hardship in the event of a major injury or illness.  To satisfy the requirement, students can demonstrate they maintain coverage on their parents’ plan until age 26, opt to purchase insurance through their college or university, buy a student plan through the exchange or based on eligibility, secure coverage via Medicaid.

Students can typically receive basic health services through their school for free or at little cost, with the exception of services such as hospitalization, labs, and emergency room visits that require private pay or insurance coverage. If a student has existing health insurance, make sure to identify an off-campus provider that accepts your plan, in the event of long wait times, the need for a specialist or in the event of an emergency. Depending on parents’ insurance and the location of college/university, students may consider getting a student plan that works better in that location. Ask your insurance provider how coverage may be affected by the student’s location.

Check with your school to see what kind of health services they offer students, at what cost, and what insurance requirements they might have. To learn more, visit Healthcare.gov’s page on student health.

Explore Your Study Abroad Country Ahead of Time

Health care access, quality, and coverage can differ wildly between the U.S. and other countries. If you’re planning on studying abroad, research that country’s health care system ahead of time. Know their regulations on bringing medicines into the country, vaccination requirements, whether you need to prepare to pay for health care and how your insurer is involved, and possible unique health risks. The U.S. Department of State has a helpful checklist for Your Health Abroad. It’s also wise to see what your school’s program offers.

Learn the Rules for Student Athletes

While student athletes can theoretically pay a fine rather than carry insurance under the ACA, many collegiate athletic programs require student athletes to demonstrate coverage in order to participate. The NCAA is one example of an organization that requires student athletes at member institutions to carry personal insurance to participate in games, practices, or workouts.

Student athletes should check the insurance requirements of their school as well as those of their school’s collegiate athletic organization (The NCAA is the largest of these, but not the only one). Student athletes should also research what medical records they may be required to produce to demonstrate they are healthy enough to participate in sports.

Student athletes have additional requirements and restrictions for their diet and physical condition. Coaches and trainers will provide some guidance, but the NCAA also has some helpful resources for student athletes to educate themselves on healthy living.

Plan Ahead for Prescriptions

In some cases, your health provider back home can transfer regular prescriptions to a local pharmacy.  In other cases, student health services can fill prescriptions – but only those they prescribe directly.  Far too often, students arrive at college without a plan for filling critical prescriptions for their health care needs.  Make sure to discuss a plan with your primary care provider at home or make appropriate arrangements at your university or with your health provider near campus.

Find Where to Get Health Care—On and Off Campus

Most colleges and universities will have some sort of health care provider on campus. However, it is important to know where to get health care off campus if you are sick or injured and on-campus facilities are closed (such as on a weekend, at night, or over a holiday).

Wherever you get health care – on campus or off – try to make sure your primary care provider is part of the conversation. Whether it’s student health services, at a retail clinic, or with an NP at a private practice near campus, coordinating care and sharing documentation between these providers and your primary care provider back home is essential. Lack of coordination between providers could lead to unintended health and financial outcomes.

It’s All Confidential.

Students entering a college or university are considered adults, and in most states, must give verbal or written approval for their parents to speak with student health services about the care they are receiving and medical decisions they make.  By having this conversation in advance, students and their parents can confirm their plan for managing health care on campus.

Take Steps to Live Healthy on Your Own

If you’re a student living away from your parents for the first time, be aware: you and your peers will enjoy a degree of freedom that can be overwhelming. Whether it’s related to drinking, mental health, sexual activity, or whether to have pizza at 3 am, you will face choices that may not be good for your health. Here are some helpful links for how to live healthy without Mom and Dad looking over you shoulder:

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