BATON ROUGE, La. – With the 2020 spring semester upended by COVID-19, many parents had to postpone routine checkups or other medical appointments for their children. But, before the academic year resumes in the fall, it’s important to have a wellness visit for your children to make sure they are up to date on their immunizations, screenings and any tests they should have. Your children’s doctor can also check their developmental progress.
“Do not wait until right before school starts or when you find out how classes will take place this year,” said Dr. Tracy Lemelle, a pediatrician who joined Blue Cross as a medical director in February. “It’s very important for children to have a checkup each year, and before heading back to school in the fall is a good time for that. And, if you had to put off any appointments, shots or screenings for your children because of COVID-19, talk to their doctor about rescheduling during the summer.”
Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a checkup is a great opportunity to touch base with your children’s doctor and ask any questions you have about how they can take steps to stay healthy and prevent spreading illnesses, especially if they plan to take classes, play sports or do other activities where they will be around others, Dr. Lemelle added.
Ask your child’s doctor about the safest way to come in for an appointment. Many doctors’ offices schedule appointments so that wellness visits happen at a different time from visits to treat illnesses. The office may require face masks at in-person appointments and may have other rules to limit contact between patients and keep them at least six feet apart. You should call the office before you go in to find out about anything you or your child need to do. If you are unable to follow their requirements, you should let them know before you arrive.
Most health plans, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana health plans, cover an annual wellness visit for children at low or $0 out-of-pocket cost. Call your health plan’s customer service at the number on your member ID card to see how these visits are covered on your health plan and how much it will cost.
Most day cares, school systems, colleges and universities require proof of vaccination before a child can enroll. Some vaccines are recommended for early childhood, and others are recommended for adolescence or even young adulthood. For example, there is a meningitis vaccine requirement for Louisiana college students. It’s important that parents of children of all ages talk to their children’s doctor every year to make sure they’ve gotten the shots they need for their age group.
The annual wellness visit is also a good opportunity to check your child’s Body Mass Index (BMI) for risk of being overweight or obese. Louisiana unfortunately has one of the highest childhood obesity rates among states. Children who are obese tend to be at greater risk of adult obesity, and obesity overall is a risk factor for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, bone or joint conditions and certain types of cancers.
If your child’s doctor determines he/she is overweight or obese, then your child may qualify for wellness benefits including health coaching on diet and exercise, BMI screenings and counseling.
Blue Cross has joined the Alliance for a Healthier Generation in offering preventive benefits like these to combat childhood obesity. Depending on a child’s particular needs and health situation, these covered benefits could include dietitian visits to teach healthy eating habits, regular follow-up screenings and counseling to work on behavior changes toward a healthier lifestyle.
Contact your health plan’s Customer Service at the number on your member ID card to find out how obesity prevention benefits are covered on your plan.
If your child has an emergency health issue like a broken bone, severe bleeding, allergic reaction or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately. Do not put off care because of concerns about COVID-19. Clinical staff are trained to help your child get treated while limiting his/her exposure to COVID-19 or any other contagious illnesses.
Dr. Lemelle explains why it’s important to have a checkup before heading back to school in this video (2:20) and why immunizations are important for protecting children’s health in this video (1:59).
You can visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube page to see short videos with the clinical team and others discussing various health topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. You can also connect with Blue Cross on social media for regular updates.
For information on what Blue Cross is doing for members during COVID-19, visit www.bcbsla.com/covid19. You can learn more about why it’s important for adults and children to keep up with their healthcare providers at www.bcbsla.com/keepupwithcare.
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. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We were recognized in 2019 as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com