The Importance of Advocating for Your Health So Your Kids Will Too

“Adulting” has become a buzzword among young adults and millennials. It means what it says: to carry out the duties and responsibilities expected of a fully grown individual.

But ⅔ of young people don’t feel prepared for the milestone, according to a survey by Bank of America and USA Today. In fact, one of the age group’s most popular jokes is not knowing how to make a doctor’s appointment. So, it begs the question, how do we make sure our children will be prepared to take charge of their health once they leave the nest?

When You Advocate for Your Health, Your Kids Learn to Care for Themselves Too

If you’ve ever heard a toddler repeat a cuss word, you know kids want to emulate everything their parents say and do. At a young age, children learn by picking up attitudes, behaviors, and interactions.

Teens and young adults are no different — they may need a little more pushing to pay attention, though. So, the best way to prepare your 18-year-old for the big, wide world of health care is to be an advocate for your own health. Here’s what you can do:

Understand Your Health Insurance

Health insurance is complicated even for us doctors. But understanding your policy can help you cut down on unexpected, costly bills. If you familiarize yourself with terms like deductible, copay, out-of-pocket maximum, and coinsurance, you’ll be ahead of most Americans.

You probably won’t get your teen to read the policy with you. But, as you go to visits or checkups, have your child go through the process of payment with you. Talk to them about why there’s a copay, how much you’re paying, and what that’ll mean in regards to the final bill (i.e., you won’t be out-of-pocket).

Be Prepared for Your Visit

If you see a general practitioner, your doctor is likely pressed for time and will only have around 7 minutes to listen, diagnose, and treat. Arriving prepared to your appointment can help you make the most of that visit and ensure you get treatment that’s aligned with your goals and desires.

Create a list of questions to ask your doctor. You may want to list out your symptoms, when you first noticed them, and any other relevant information you think could be pertinent to the diagnosis. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Doctors have a wealth of knowledge and tend to talk over your head. But, when you ask, they’ll stop and explain it to you.

Maintain Your Health Records

We know someone who showed up to his doctor’s office to get his weekly allergy shot — something that can’t be missed — only to read a sign that said the office was now closed. Luckily, he already had access to his medical records via an online portal (and owned the vials for his shots), but if he hadn’t, he would have missed an injection and potentially have to start the treatment over.

Transferring records can be a hassle, but when you maintain your copies, they won’t get lost in the shuffle. And you can see what your doctor is seeing.

Communicate Financial Concerns

Errors in medical billing are more common than you think. So, firstly, demonstrate to your children that it’s important to review all your bills (even if the visit was fully covered).

Secondly, don’t be shy about bringing up financial concerns with a doctor. Many doctors have medication samples, coupons, or even know of financial programs that can help you afford the care you need.

Your young adult will likely encounter a situation where he/she can’t afford care. Teach your children to speak up if money is an object. Physicians do have options, and they will help you.

Understanding your health insurance, being prepared, maintaining health records, and communicating are all very important ways to be an advocate for your health AND model responsible behavior to your children.

What other ways do you teach your young adults to, well, adult?