By MAMAMIA TEAM
Teenagers are, arguably, not the most reliable of people when it comes to taking care of their own health.
Whether forgetting to eat throughout the day, or remembering to eat throughout the day and enjoying a classic dessert-as-dinner, or failing to take antibiotics they’ve been prescribed at specific times throughout the day… Well, most of us would have been guilty of it when we were younger.
This post is sponsored by Medibank. All opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.
Let’s be honest: most of us are probably still guilty of these things on occasion as adults.
But things like being aware of your heath and body, and taking care of your own wellbeing, become all the more important for young people when they move out of the family home.
No longer will parents pay for our kids’ private health insurance. Or be able to bring them chicken noodle soup when they’re feeling unwell. Or buy our kids the aforementioned antibiotics that they will in all likelihood forget to take anyway.
Perhaps because teenagers are too busy growing up and enjoying life, they rarely remember to think about such seemingly tedious things as, you know, maintaining a basic standard of health and wellbeing. These things tend to take on a new sense of importance as we get older. But sometimes it’s because young people actually just aren’t aware of what they should be doing to avoid getting a flu that lasts for the entirety of winter.
So here’s what teenagers need to be aware of when they move out from under the protective wing of their parent’s care. If you have a teenager in your life, share this handy cheat sheet with them – it might just save them learning the hard way.
1. Getting a Medicare card.
When living at home, children are listed on their parents’ Medicare card. But when the time comes to move out of home, learn some independence, and spread their wings, etc etc etc – that comes with responsibilities.
Encouraging your teenager to get their own Medicare card – so they can claim Medicare benefits, visit doctors who bulk bill, seek treatment in a public hospital, and fill prescriptions that are on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme – means they will be able to take more responsibility for their health. Plus, young people are more likely to visit a doctor about more ‘embarrassing’ conditions (like Sexually Transmitted Infections) if they know they don’t need their parent’s Medicare number.
2. Booking regular check ups at the doctor and dentist in advance.
If people – of any age – haven’t booked trips to the doctor or dentist in advance, it can be difficult to remember to go in at all, until something goes wrong. When your teenager first moves out of home, encourage them to book a full physical checkup at their GP in advance, as well as two checkups at the dentist six months apart.
Lastly, encourage your teenager to set reminders for check ups on the calendar in their phone. This will help ensure they actually GO.It’s also a good idea to book pap smears and breast exams in advance – or prostate exams for young men. These are things that many teenagers put off because they’re embarrassed, but there’s nothing to be worried about. GPs have seen it all before and it’s part of the job. For them, it’s about as exciting as cutting their toenails.
3. Thinking about private health insurance.
While many teenagers may not be able to afford private health insurance when they first move out of home, it’s a good idea for them to start thinking about coverage – and learning what is actually does – so that when the time comes they can make an informed decision. Children can be covered by some private health insurance schemes, such as many of Medibank’s, until they are 21 years old – or 25 years old if they are full-time students. This is because they are still ‘dependants’.
And if your teenager doesn’t know what private health insurance is? At its most basic level, private health insurance funds cover the costs for treatment in a private or public hospital – and can also include some services that Medicare does not cover – such as dental care, optical care, and the use of ambulances where immediate professional attention is required. In general, there are two types of private health insurance. Hospital policies cover when you go to the hospital, and general treatment policies (also called ancillary or extras) can cover other things like dental, optical or physio treatment. Many health funds also offer combined policies, or allow you to ‘mix and match’.
Thinking about the three items on the checklist above will help teenagers moving out of home for the first time – and help them take responsibility for their own health.
Members with Medibank hospital cover can call a Medibank nurse with any health questions, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Medibank nurses complement the care given by GPs and other health professionals so consumers can trust they’ll deliver sound advice, and answer most questions. For parents or teens who want to talk about weight issues confidentially with a trusted medical professional, all Medibank members with hospital cover can speak to a qualified nurse at any time of the day or night on the Medibank 24/7 Health Advice Line.
If Medibank nurses think a GP should be seen, they can use their clinical knowledge to call the preferred GP clinic and explain the condition to assist getting you an appointment.
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