Friday’s Back to School Healthcare Guide
Yep, it’s that time of year again. Summer break’s coming to an end. School’s just around the corner. And after ten weeks of a relatively relaxed summer schedule, things are becoming really freakin’ hectic again.
On top of that, you’ve got to worry about your kids (or you) getting sick. With new classmates and new friends also come new germs and ailments your kids might meet along the way. Read: head lice, pink eye, ear infection, weird toenail thing you’ve never seen before.
But here’s the good news: your Friday health plan has you covered when and where you need it, and we have a few suggestions for getting through these crazy first few weeks of the school-year.
Make sleep a top priority
You’ve heard this before, we know. It sounds like obvious advice. But in this day and age, getting 8-10 hours of high-quality sleep is probably more difficult than ever for kids.
Instead of catching z’s, lots of kids are hearing: vzzzt, vzzzt, vzzzt throughout the night — the unmistakable sound of their smartphones humming on nightstands, each hum promising an urgent message that absolutely cannot wait to be read until the morning.
Cultivate a healthy sleep routine
- We’re not saying you need to become a phone fascist — smartphones are a pretty necessary part of life in 2018 — but according to this NIH study, cell phone use is a major sleep inhibitor for kids. Experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine recommend that parents encourage their kids to turn off their phones and stash them away an hour before bedtime.
- Treat your kid to a light snack before bed — something easy and healthy like a banana or apple slices with peanut butter. Avoid caffeine and artificial sugars.
- Avoid a hot shower or exercise shortly before bed. These tend to spike adrenaline and heart rate, preventing sleep.
- Your kids finished their homework early? Awesome. Encourage them to read a book before bedtime. And feel free to follow suit: turn off that phone and bring out the Kindle or paperback. Mom and dad need their beauty sleep to be great parents too!
Know your go-to options for non-emergency illnesses and injuries
With every Friday health plan, you have a bunch of quality options for when your little one has a minor health hiccup. These are your main options for all non-emergency illnesses:
Use a free doctor visit (you’ve got three of them per kid, per year)
Yep, each one of your kids gets three free annual visits with the pediatrician. Have a free visit in the bag and your kid’s feeling under the weather? Schedule an appointment and visit your pediatrician, for free. (Not available on the Bronze HSA plan.)
Talk to a doctor with Teladoc
We’ve said if before and we’ll say it again: Teladoc is the easiest and fastest way to get remote care from a medical professional for non-emergency illnesses like sinus problems, respiratory infection, allergies, urinary tract infection, the cold, and flu symptoms.
As an extra benefit with every Friday health plan, you can speak to a doctor online or over the phone for a $45 flat fee. Access Teladoc by visiting their website here: Teladoc.
(This is an added service to your plan, so it does not go toward your deductible.)
Visit an in-network urgent care
Across the state of Colorado, we have a strong network of conveniently located urgent care centers. Most plans have a $75 co-pay (flat fee) to visit the urgent care*. You can see the full list in this article and find the one that’s closest to you!
*Catastrophic and Bronze HSA must first meet deductible, then urgent care is $0.
Get those peepers checked for free
Every Friday health plan comes with a free annual WellVision exam. Notice your kid squinting or tilting their head while reading or looking at their phone? It’s probably time to set up that exam.
Simply visit vsp.com, find a close and convenient eye doctor (they’re all in-network), and schedule an appointment. It’s that easy.
Know the difference between the ER and urgent care
Serious or life-threatening injuries or illnesses that require immediate attention or a specific level of care are emergencies. Sore throats or extreme paper cuts are not.
If your child is experiencing a life-threatening emergency, then head to the closest emergency room STAT (Friday covers you at any ER in a true emergency). This could be the most costly option, but if your kid’s life (or yours!) is in danger, you must get care immediately.
Here are a few of the symptoms that are best evaluated in an emergency room:
- Persistent chest pain, especially if it radiates to your arm or jaw or is accompanied by sweating, vomiting or shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Any severe pain, particularly in the abdomen or starting halfway down the back
- Sudden clumsiness, loss of balance or fainting
- Sudden difficulty speaking, or trouble understanding speech
- Sudden weakness or paralysis, especially on one side of the face or body
- Severe heart palpitations
- Sudden, severe headache
- Broken bones or dislocated joints
- Deep cuts that require stitches — especially on the face — or a large open wound that won’t stop bleeding
- Head or eye injuries
- Severe flu or cold symptoms
- High fevers or fevers with rash
- Severe and persistent vomiting or diarrhea
- Serious burns
The cost of ER tests, scans, and other healthcare services can be MUCH higher than they would be at other medical providers, because they are there to save lives. The average cost of an emergency room visit is $1,233.
If it’s a sore throat or stomach bug in the late hours of the night, you know your options. Teladoc is open 24/7, 365 days a year, an urgent care is open first thing in the morning, and your primary doctor’s office is open five days a week.
Buyer beware of freestanding emergency rooms
You may have seen these individual buildings in your neighborhood with a local hospital name. They look like clinics, but they are actually emergency rooms that charge emergency room prices. If you’re not careful, a visit to a free-standing ER for your kid’s ear infection could cost you thousands of dollars (compared to a $75 urgent care visit, a $45 Teladoc call, or a free doctor visit).
Bottom line: be sure to ask if the facility is a free- standing emergency room with emergency room prices. If it is and you’re not in a life-threatening situation, make the smart choice and head out to the urgent care center, primary care doctor or call Teladoc.
Are your kids up to date on their shots and vaccines?
All Friday health plans have access to a wide-range of vaccines to help keep your kid in ship-shape year-round. You can get these done at your pediatrician’s office or through a local, convenient vaccine provider:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Herpes Zoster
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Influenza (flu shot)
- Varicella (Chickenpox)
As always, if you have any questions about your child’s plan, benefits, or services, please give our Colorado-based customer service team a call: 800-475-8466. We’re here to help!