How to Insure Your College Freshman

August 22, 2013

Clothes, check. Laptop, check.  Health insurance?  That’s something you definitely want to check on. A new school year is approaching, and your freshman will soon be off to college. But before your college student ventures out this fall, it’s important to check now that they have adequate health insurance coverage rather than waiting to look into it if and when an emergency happens.

Consider these health insurance options for your college-age son or daughter:

Staying on your family’s health plan, protected under health reform. If your college student is already on a family health plan, that could be the best option. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, children are entitled to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26. This can be especially beneficial for students who continue graduate studies or take time off.

However, if they go out of state to school and your plan only allows for in-network doctors, it could pose a costly problem to see an out-of-network doctor. In this case, it might be worth checking out individual health plans, school-sponsored health plans or student health plans.

Individual health plans are offered in many states at a low cost. An individual plan ensures that your college student can keep coverage regardless of their status at college. So, if they need to take a semester off, transfer schools, switch to part-time status, or a parent loses a job, they will keep their coverage under an individual health plan.

School- sponsored health plans are affordable and provide medical services on campus. Many colleges offer health insurance for students. The benefits of these plans vary from school to school, so check with the school’s admission office. Some of these plans are subsidized by the school, so they may be low cost. Some plans offer low premiums (monthly costs), but limit coverage. These plans may cover very basic medical care, but exclude other services.

Medicaid can help those who are not insured. If their parents do not have health coverage, some students can qualify for Medicaid based on family income. 

Look to the exchanges. Next year students will be able to buy a health plan through the health insurance marketplaces.  In addition, a recent federal guideline passed this month states that students who don’t enroll in the student health plan may still qualify for subsidized coverage on an exchange. According to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Treasury Department, under health reform, if their income is between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($11,490 to $45,960 for an individual in 2013), they can be eligible for a subsidy.

Looking into these health insurance options can help you be prepared to send your college-bound son or daughter off to school. If you’re a Health Advocate member and need more help understanding health insurance options for your college student, give us a call—one of our Personal Health Advocates will be happy to assist you.



Eating Disorders: Finding a Road to Recovery

August 9, 2013

If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, help is available. Generally, treatment for an eating disorder requires counseling, eating coaching, and support.

The first step to a full recovery is admitting that there is a problem and asking for help.  Unfortunately, even when family members confront the ill person about his or her behavior, or physicians make a diagnosis, individuals with eating disorders may deny that they have a problem. Thus, people with anorexia may not receive medical or psychological attention until they have already become dangerously thin and malnourished. People with bulimia are often normal weight and are able to hide their illness from others for years.  Eating disorders are most successfully treated when diagnosed early.

Luckily, once someone understands that help is needed, there is an abundance of inexpensive resources dedicated to helping people recover from eating disorders. Read on to learn about some available resources for help with eating disorders.

Online Tools

The following websites are dedicated to preventing and alleviating eating disorders.  They also offer a multitude of resources for help:

ANADThe National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Eating Disorders is a non-profit organization that specializes in getting people help, getting involved, or just providing information about eating disorders. They offer access to a helpline and email address you can use to contact someone from their organization. They also offer a list of treatment centers and support groups they are partnered with by state and region.

The ANAD Eating Disorders Helpline, 630-577-1330, takes calls Monday-Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Central Time.

NEDANational Eating Disorders Association is another non-profit dedicated to battling eating disorders. They offer tons of informational material covering each eating disorder, contributing factors and ways to prevent eating disorders, and treatment and recovery options. They also include educator and coach training kits on how to help people who work with students or athletes who may be struggling with an ED.

Call their toll-free, confidential helpline, Monday-Thursday from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm and Friday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (EST): 1-800-931-2237

Other Resources

If you or someone you love are suffering from an eating disorder, the following professionals can serve as resources for help:

  • Your doctor
  • A licensed counselor
  • Your Employee Assistance Program

Remember, the first step to recovery is often the hardest, but once you say that you need help, other people’s support can help you move forward.

Teen Smoking – Get Them to Kick Their (Cigarette) Butts

August 7, 2013

The number of teens and young adults who use tobacco products remains surprisingly high in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students smoke cigarettes. In fact, for every person who dies due to smoking-related illnesses—more than 1,200 people each day—at least two teens or young adults become regular smokers. Nearly 90% of these “replacement” smokers try their first cigarette by age 18.

So what can you do?

The Mayo Clinic advises the best way to get your teens to quit smoking is by helping them avoid ever taking that first puff. Here are some tips to help you with this challenge:

  • Set a good example. If your kids see you smoking, how can you expect them to listen to you?
  • Say no to teen smoking. Tell them smoking isn’t allowed. Firm smoking restrictions may sway them not to try in the first place.
  • Appeal to your teen’s vanity. Remind your teen that smoking is dirty, smelly, gives them bad breath, wrinkles, makes their teeth yellow, and gives them less energy for sports.
  • Do the math. Sit down with your teen and calculate how expensive a smoking habit can really be. Chances are they will already be thinking about spending that money elsewhere, like saving up for a car.
  • Expect peer pressure. Rehearse with your teen on how to respond to peer pressure from friends and other teens.
  • Take addiction seriously. Tell them how hard it is to quit smoking, and that most adults who have died from smoking started when they were teenagers.
  • Predict the future. Teens tend to think they’ll live forever. Use loved ones, friends, or celebrities who’ve gotten smoking-related diseases as real-life examples.
  • Think beyond cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco, clove cigarettes, and hookahs are not safer than smoking cigarettes. They all carry health risks; don’t let your teen be fooled.

Consider supplementing the above tips with resources from the following organizations:

  • is dedicated to helping teens and young adults quit smoking. They offer the Smokefree TXT text messaging service that provides your teen with 24/7 encouragement. Also, their QuitSTART app allows teens to track their mood, cravings, triggers, and overall smoke-free progress. Just sign up!  Please note, these resources are free from, but standard messaging and data rates apply.
  • is sponsored by the American Lung Association and offers a lot of information about how to quit tobacco, why you should quit, and where you can find more help. They also offer information regarding federal, state, and community programs to help with tobacco cessation.
  • is a great resource for helping your kids quit smoking.  Plus, it also offers a lot of advice for other issues and risks that may impact your teens, such as drugs and alcohol, driving safety, and food and fitness!