How to prepare your child for when they get sick or hurt at college

Parents can start easing child into participating in their own care

HOUSTON – As your children pack up for college, one thing is often overlooked: What should they do if they get sick or hurt there?

Most campuses have a student health center. Students need to know what services are available and how to access care. Many students also have private insurance. Should they seek health care off campus?

And do they know the difference between going to an urgent care clinic and either a free-standing or hospital emergency room? Choosing the wrong facility for the care they need could result in an unnecessarily big bill.

You don’t have to wait for college to start getting your children ready to handle their own medical needs. As they get into high school, you can start easing them into participating in their own care.

1. Have your teens call to schedule appointments. This gives them an idea of what questions health care providers ask and how to provide information from their insurance plan.

2. Have your teens do their own check-in at the health care provider's office. This is also a good time for them to learn how to fill out their own medical history forms.

3. Show them how billing works. Go over explanation of benefits forms to show which portions of care insurance covers, what is deductible and how much the out-of-pocket portion of the bill is for their care.

4. Have them take responsibility for taking their medications. A pillbox with the days of the week on it may help them learn to stay on track. Setting an alarm for when medications need to be taken can help as well.