Educational institutions play an important role in the health and safety of more than 20 million people enrolled in universities and colleges. This fall, about 48% of colleges have returned to offering in-person classes. Some campuses are fully open, while others are using a hybrid learning model.

Let's look at how college students can stay healthy and safe as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

1. Have a plan for accessing care.

In college, many young people find themselves responsible for their own health for the first time. If you have college students in your family, be sure they understand how to access health care while at school. Confirm that they know where the campus health center is located, what services are offered, and how to request and fill a prescription. Students should be able to provide basic information about their health history. We recommend that students bring a first-aid kit, including a thermometer, to campus.

2. Know what the student health plan covers—and what it doesn’t.

The typical student health plan offers enough coverage for most students, but each plan is different. Visit the school’s website to determine the benefits and limitations of their plan. For students under age 26, another option is to maintain coverage under their parents’ insurance plan, even if they are no longer considered a dependent. This can be helpful for students who live close to home, because they can continue to visit the same in-network healthcare providers that they’ve seen for years. Students may also be eligible for subsidies through the Federal ACA Marketplace. If you need help determining the best health insurance plan to meet a student’s individual needs, contact Better Health Advisors.

3. Check what steps your college is taking to limit the spread of COVID.

Many college students and their families are nervous about COVID-19 exposure on campus. If you have questions about how a particular school is managing the pandemic, visit their website. Most schools have a link to their COVID-19 safety plans right on the homepage, so you can familiarize yourself with their testing protocols and other guidelines.

This is a challenging time for college students. While on campus, they may need guidance on anything from overall wellness to mental health care to emergency care. It is important that college students have the support of someone who is willing to help them navigate their healthcare options, whether it is a parent or a health advisor. If you think Better Health Advisors can offer assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out.