How to keep your child healthy while they're at college

How to Keep Your Student Healthy Away from Home

Back-to-school season seemed simpler when your child was little. Buying lunchboxes and tissues is nothing compared with shopping for college and facing the reality of your child’s first experience of living away from home.

It may seem like you need to rent a truck (and you might) to get all your kid’s stuff to the dorm. There’s one thing that’s easy to pack, though, and it doesn’t take up any room at all: a plan for healthy living.

To find a participating provider, your dependent can call the phone number on the back of his or her member ID card or call the UPMC Health Plan’s Health Care Concierge team at 1-855-869-7228.

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Making Good Choices

College kids are notorious for staying up late, overdoing the caffeine, and eating too much pizza. That does happen, but if you’ve helped your child build good habits, you shouldn’t worry too much about the occasional minor slip-up. Serious issues can be more of a challenge to address.

  • Before the school year begins, have a frank discussion about drugs, alcohol, and making safe choices, and make sure your child knows you’re available to talk at any time.
  • Throughout the year, remind your child about healthy habits. One surefire trick on the diet front? Sending a care package full of healthy treats!

Staying Active in College

Staying active is a big part of health living. If your child plays a sport, either competitively or in a club, this one should be a piece of cake. If not, you and your child can explore the areas around campus and see what there is to do. Is there a gym? Tennis courts? A rowing club?

Encourage your child to ask around and connect with like-minded peers to find a way to get some exercise every day. Some campuses are so spread out that simply walking to classes is an easy way to get in thousands of steps.

Accessing Healthcare When Needed

Medical care is another issue your child may be facing alone for the first time. Check out the on-campus options:

  • Is there a student health center on campus, and what types of care does it provide?
  • How close is the nearest emergency room or urgent care facility? How can your child get there if walking or driving isn’t an option?
  • If your child is undergoing behavioral health counseling, talk to your child’s provider about the possibility of scheduling these visits via telemedicine while your child is away at college.

Health Insurance for Your College Student

Health insurance for your college student may seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Most insurance plans cover dependents up to age 26, including those attending school away from home. The best thing to do to ensure your child is fully covered, and the best way for them to access care, is to contact your insurer directly.

Some college and universities may also offer student health insurance plans.  This may be a good option if your child is not covered under your health insurance plan.

What If I Have UPMC Health Plan?

Whether attending school or working outside of UPMC Health Plan’s primary service area, eligible dependent children (up to age 26) are covered through the UPMC Health Plan national extended network. To find a participating provider, your dependent can call the phone number on the back of his or her member ID card or call the UPMC Health Plan’s Health Care Concierge team at 1-855-869-7228.

Your child age 18 or over can also use UPMC AnywhereCare to have a virtual urgent care visit with a health care provider. This service is best for nonemergency conditions, such as cold symptoms, allergies, or pink eye. The provider can even send a prescription to a nearby pharmacy, if necessary.


About UPMC

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations in central and western Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals.