BATON ROUGE, La. – Kids heading away to college? If so, this may be the first time they’ll have to find healthcare services on their own when sick or injured.
Whether students are on the family plan or have their own policies, it’s important to go over with them how to use healthcare coverage and keep out-of-pocket costs as low as possible.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana offers these healthcare coverage tips for college students:
Check Your Coverage
Under the Affordable Care Act, which became law in 2010, children can stay on their parents’ or guardians’ health insurance plans until they are 26 years old. While most college students remain on a family plan, there are some students who are on individual policies or have a different plan than other family members.
Before arriving on campus, your student should know which health plan he/she is on and have a member ID card for that plan. The card will have information about how to contact the health plan to ask about benefits or with any other questions.
Know Your Network
Make sure your student knows which doctors, clinics, labs and other facilities are in the network for his/her health plan. This is especially important if students are going to school in a different state or different area from where they have typically gotten healthcare. It costs less out of pocket to get care from in-network healthcare providers.
Remember, not all health plans—even those from the same insurer—use the same provider network. Have your student check before making an appointment to be sure that provider is in the plan’s network. When in doubt, students can call customer service for their health plans to find out if a healthcare provider is in the plan’s network. For Blue Cross customers, this is the number on your member ID card.
Blue Cross customers can also check the Blue Cross network directory online at www.bcbsla.com/FindCare, or use the BCBSLA mobile app to get up-to-date information on providers in network for their plans.
Take Advantage of Telehealth
Many health plans offer telehealth services to give customers more access to care after hours or when they do not want to leave home to get treated for minor health conditions. Telehealth visits usually cost less than the ER or urgent care, and they are an effective way to treat routine health needs like cough and cold, allergies, flu symptoms, bladder infections, pink eye, rashes or stomach bugs. You can get prescriptions for most illnesses called into a local pharmacy with telehealth, too.
With BlueCare, which is Blue Cross’ telehealth service for 24/7 online doctor visits, students can have appointments at home, in the dorm or from campus, using any internet-connected device with a camera (smartphone, tablet, laptop, for example). BlueCare is available in all 50 states.
Go to www.BlueCareLA.com or get the BlueCare (one word) mobile app for Android and Apple devices to sign up and have online doctor visits if you need them. Students must be 18 years old to create a BlueCare account. Students younger than 18 can use BlueCare if they sign in with a parent/guardian present and use that account.
Choose the Right Care
Where students go and which healthcare providers they see for treatment is a big part of getting quality care while saving money. Students should find an in-network primary care doctor or clinic to go to for most of their health needs. Many colleges and universities have on-campus clinics, so it’s a good idea to check into that when arriving at school.
At any time, if a student is having a health emergency, he/she should go to the nearest emergency room for treatment. Urgent care centers and retail clinics, such as those inside pharmacies, are an option to get treatment for acute health needs that aren’t serious emergencies.
For year-round tips on saving money with your healthcare costs, visit bcbsla.com/save-money.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. We invest both time and money in the communities we serve, supporting the health and wellbeing of Louisianians through more than 200 charitable organizations. Our commitment to corporate citizenship was recognized in 2019 by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana was honored as one of The Civic 50: the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
With our subsidiaries, HMO Louisiana and Southern National Life, we provide group and individual health insurance plans, life and disability insurance, group voluntary products and administrative services to one out of four Louisiana residents. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana also provides Medicare supplement and Medicare Advantage plans and is a partner in offering the Healthy Blue Medicaid Managed care plan. Louisiana is the only state where we operate, with offices in every major region to serve our customers.
Founded in New Orleans in 1934, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is a tax-paying non-profit health insurer. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
To learn more, visit our website at www.bcbsla.com.