Teaching Teens to Navigate the Healthcare System
To become savvy consumers of an increasingly complex healthcare system, adolescents need to fully understand what healthcare entails. It's clear we need to teach our children about the healthcare system. But how, and when, should the lessons start?
Because the process is complicated, it's recommended that you start involving your child around the age of 12. You can start out slowly, like letting your child confirm an appointment or call in a prescription refill. Start explaining any medical conditions in words they understand. If they take medications, take some time to explain what they are and why they take them. If your child has a chronic condition that needs to be managed, have them go through the process of ordering medical supplies or equipment the next time its needed.
Health insurance changes quickly. Explain how your coverage works and why it may be different from someone else's. When you get education materials for open enrollment periods, share the information with your child. This will help them have a better understanding on how plans are set up, how they work, and how much they cost.
Keep in mind that your adolescent will soon become a healthcare consumer. The more information they have, the better choices they will make when they are independent.
Last reviewedDecember 2013by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.