Youth & Families [En Español]
What Is Health Care Transition?
Health care transition is the process of getting ready for health care as an adult. During childhood, parents usually help with medical needs—they call for appointments, fill out forms, and keep track of medications. As youth get older, managing medical needs becomes their own responsibility. Achieving this independence requires an organized transition process to gain independent health care skills, prepare for an adult model of care, and transfer to new providers. There are several steps you can take to make sure the transition to adult health care goes smoothly. Be sure to also check out our Resources section for additional information.
Health Care Transition FAQs
Transitioning from childhood to adulthood is exciting and challenging—both as a young person and as a parent of a young person. Preparing for health care transition often receives less attention than preparing for other transitions in school, work, relationships, and independent living. We’re here to help you know everything you need to about health care transition. Below is a set of Frequently Asked Questions with answers provided by experienced youth, young adults, and parents. The questions are organized into six steps:
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discovering: learn about your provider’s approach to transition
What should I be asking my health care provider about transition?
I go to a pediatric provider; why do I have to change?
My doctor is a family medicine doctor who I plan to stay with as an adult,
so why do I have to think about transitioning?
tracking: know your own health information
How can I keep track of my health care information?
What should I bring with me to my appointments?
preparing: learn to manage your own health care
At what age should I start thinking about transition?
How do I become more in charge of my own health care?
- Use this sample Transition Readiness Assessment for Youth and Readiness Assessment for Parents.
- Read Cristin Lind’s story about helping her daughter learn self-care skills in “Transition Baby Steps.”
- Read Anna Cyr’s Transition Story to see how she helped her daughters prepare for their transitions to adult health care.
As a parent, how can I prepare to “let go” of managing my child’s health care?
- Read Janet DesGeorges’ story “Confessions of a Controlling Mother” to see how she faced letting go of her daughter’s care.
planning: get ready for adult health care
As I turn 18, what legal changes in health care do I need to know about?
If my child needs help with making health care decisions, what are our options?
- See Got Transition’s resources on Guardianship and Decision-Making.
How do I find a new adult provider, and how do I know if they are a good fit for me?
- Wanda Felty tells a story of her search for good doctors in “The Transition Tango.”
- A great resource can also be “Preferred Provider Lists” offered by family-driven non-profit organizations such as Family Voices, Parent To Parent, and The Federation for Families for Children’s Mental Health.
What should I know about my health insurance?
- Find out what insurance plans could be a good fit for you by using the Health Care Marketplace.
- To learn more about the Affordable Care Act, and what it means for you, check out the Got Transition Radio episode on “Health Care 101”.
- Young Invincibles answers frequently asked questions about insurance.
- This handout prepared by the Illinois Chapter of the American Pediatrics discusses insurance and transition.
- Visit The Catalyst Center - National Center for Health Care Financing.
Will Medicaid coverage change for my child when he/she turns 19?
What about coverage under the Children's Health Insurance Plan?
- See Got Transition's resources on Health Insurance.
Transitioning to adulthood can be stressful. How can I take care of my mental health?
- See “Mental Health Tips for Teens Graduating from High School” prepared by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness has good information about mental health conditions and various resources.
I am planning on going to college. How can I transition my health care to my new college?
- Check out some tips for going to college from Dr. Kitty O’Hare of Boston Children’s Hospital.
- The ThinkCollege website is designed for youth with intellectual disabilities.
What about other aspects of transitioning into adulthood?
- Check out this great set of videos for teens transitioning into adulthood. (Nemours)
transferring: make the change to an adult provider
What information does my current health care provider need to send to my new provider? How can I help?
- This is an example of a condition fact sheet that you’d want to have from your provider.
How is adult health care likely to be different than pediatric care?
- See a chart on the differences between pediatric and adult health care prepared by the Cristine M. Trahms Program for Phenylketonuria at the University of Washington. (Page 5 of PKU’s Transition Curriculum)
What questions should I ask about my new provider’s practice?
completing: provide feedback
How do I help transition be better for others?
Have a question? Email us at info@GotTransition.org.