College move-in is more challenging this year than ever before. Health concerns have risen to the top of the list of worries for parents taking kids to campus this fall in the midst of a pandemic.
Now is the time to expand the college packing list to include a few employee benefits to help your student avoid unnecessary expenses or worse, not getting the care they need.
In addition to power of attorney and HIPAA disclosure forms that all families should consider once a child turns 18, be sure to explore other forms and resources that could help a college student get through the variety of health-related challenges that may arise.
Ensure that your college student is aware of the services available to them through your employee benefits. Provide details so they know how to use them and set them up with necessary ID cards, website links and phone numbers.
As a parent of two college students with a fine appreciation for employee benefits, I have a few pointers from a mom who’s been through this. (For legal advice, please consult your legal counsel.)
1. Health Insurance
The Affordable Care Act requires plans that offer dependent child coverage to make the coverage available until a child reaches the age of 26—If your employer-provided health benefits cover dependents, your child is eligible for coverage through the typical college years.
Check if an on-campus clinic accepts your insurance. Also verify coverage limitations and avoid out-of-network charges by determining covered off-campus providers nearby.
- Parent-pro tip: Ask your student to sign a release of health information form for your insurance if you’d like to be able to access claims.
2. Telemedicine Access
Especially in COVID-19 times, virtual medical appointments are a practical option for your student to get care without leaving their dorm or apartment. If you have access to a separate telehealth plan, make sure your child has the website information or number to call. You may also want to inquire whether your main health plan has added coverage for virtual visits during the pandemic.
- Parent-pro tip: Help your student set up an account with their own login before the service is needed.
[Related Reading: Interest in Telemedicine Has Exploded During COVID-19: Here’s How It Works]
3. Pharmacy Coverage
If your student uses prescribed medications, help them prepare to find a practical way to obtain refills as needed. Find a close, in-network pharmacy or explore mail-order pharmacy options.
- Parent-pro tip: If using a mail-order pharmacy, be sure to allow for extra delivery time, perhaps a few days, for the package and your student to find each other.
4. Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) Access
Discuss the importance of getting help through life’s challenges and diffusing mental health stigmas that may prevent your child from seeking help. Most colleges have excellent resources to support students through the stresses and challenges they may face while on campus. Don’t forget to also share contact information for an EAP if you have one! Many EAPs provide access to your entire family—Investigate these options for additional support and assure your student that contacting an EAP is confidential so they feel comfortable using this resource.
- Parent-pro tip: Remember to use your EAP as a resource yourself for support through this major life transition.
I close with a final parent-pro tip. Your child is not going to remember all of these details. Share an overview and encourage them to call you when they need to seek medical care.
[Related Reading: Repackaging Existing Resources Could Increase Usage of Employee Assistance Programs]
Ann Godsell, CEBS
Director, Professional Development Marketing at the International Foundation
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