Navigating Healthcare as a Young Adult | News, Sports, Jobs
August 5, 2022
Michelle Cavanaugh, MD
Our teenage years and early twenties are a pivotal time of change in our lives. Young adults are simultaneously changing educationally or professionally, legally, socially and emotionally. Young adults take on the responsibility of growing up and navigating life, and managing health and well-being is a big piece of the life puzzle. From updating your health insurance plan to finding doctors on the network to scheduling appointments, staying healthy can be overwhelming. However, young adults do not have to walk alone and there is support to help you find your way.
Own your health
Once you turn 18, you are legally responsible for your own care and, unless you consent, your parents cannot access medical information or attend doctor visits. As a parent, encouraging your child’s early involvement in their own care will help them feel more comfortable when the time comes to make their own decisions.
Transition is a process that begins in early adolescence by working with patients and families to prepare them for adult care. Throughout these years, good communication between patients and providers has been crucial. This is not only due to the patient and his family. Pediatric providers also play a role in ensuring a smooth handover to their successors and helping their patients make the transition.
Primary Providers Key to Managing Wellness
Your family doctor is your most important partner on your way. Finding a new family doctor as a young adult can be overwhelming. This is especially the case if you recently opted out of your parents’ health insurance and need a healthcare professional you can trust. After years of relying on a pediatrician who knows your medical history intimately, it can be difficult to navigate the many options new doctors have to offer.
There are many general practitioners out there and finding the right one can seem like an overwhelming task. The best way to start is to ask friends and family for recommendations. You may find the same name or the practice keeps popping up. If you already have a family doctor you trust, ask them for a referral.
Once you have some names, it’s important to check which doctors are on your health plan “Network” — or who accepts your insurance plan. You can often call the office and ask about this. You can also use online directories to start your search.
Plan a visit
The best way to determine if a new doctor is right for you is to visit them in person. When you make the appointment, either over the phone or through an online portal, tell the office staff that you are looking for a new provider and would like to sit down and discuss your expectations. During the appointment, get an idea of the office atmosphere and make sure you feel comfortable with the whole team. Discuss your medical history, medications, and concerns for the future, and confirm that the provider meets your needs.
This first appointment is a good opportunity to visit the well. From the sound of it, the well visit is your chance to speak to your provider when you’re not sick. you can feel “It’s all ok” while underlying conditions such as high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, prediabetes or suspicious birthmarks are present. These conditions, if caught early, can be treated before they become major chronic health problems.
Once you are sure about your provider choice, talk to them about recommended screening and testing. Many screenings occur annually, such as blood pressure, heart and lung function, and pelvic exams, or at other regular intervals, such as cholesterol and blood sugar. Your provider may also have recommendations for vaccinations, including influenza, tetanus, measles, mumps, HPV, and hepatitis A and B, to ensure you are up to date and protected.
As a young adult, your health may be the last thing on your mind. However, the time you spend today can put you on the path to a happier, healthier life. Your GP is your partner in all health goals, and we are here to offer suggestions on how to improve your overall health and resources to help you start and maintain healthy habits, now and for all milestones ahead of life.
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Michelle Cavanaugh, MD, is a Physician with UPMC Family Medicine and treats patients at UPMC Primary Care, 175 Pine St., Williamsport. To make an appointment with Dr. To arrange Cavanaugh, call 570-326-2447. Visit UPMC.com/PrimaryCareNCPA for more information.