Health Care Transition for Teens and Young Adults

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Preparing Teens for the Move to Adult Care | Healthcare and Community Settings | For Teens and Young Adults  |  For Families and Support Systems 

As youth transition to adulthood, they must move from pediatric to adult healthcare providers, which can be overwhelming. However, with practice, planning, and support from family, friends, and healthcare professionals, the transition can be made easier. Take advantage of available resources until you feel ready to take charge of your healthcare. For more information, refer to the youth taking charge booklet.

S.T.E.P.S for Transition

Start Slow, Start Now! The time to begin this process is the present.  

  • Ask your current doctor about transition 
  • Begin learning about your health care as early as age 12

Talk with your parent/caregiver and physicians about transition

  • Start asking questions of your family, doctors, and providers
  • Try answering a few of your doctor’s questions on your own
  • Make sure to get some alone time with your doctor or specialist

Educate yourself about the process, your conditions, what to expect, etc.   

  • Begin taking on more of your health care. For example, knowing your health condition, knowing your doctor/specialist's name, knowing the name of medications and how it makes you feel, remembering to take your medication, scheduling your appointments, etc.
  • Know at age 18, legally you are an adult, and the rules of consent change
  • Learn about health insurance and the changes that are possible when you reach adulthood

 Plan and begin creating a transition plan for you to take charge.

  • Plan for future health care such as shared decision-making, guardianship, adjustments to insurance providers, change in doctors/specialists, etc. 
  • Always keep your doctor’s phone number, insurance, and pharmacy information with you. Try using the health app or alternate medical apps on your phone.
  • Use your smartphone as a resource to take charge and keep track of your health  

Support is necessary for success in this process. You’re the captain, create your team!

  • Make sure to identify your support team to help you through the transition. You do not have to do it alone!
  • Let your physician and specialist know how the transition process has worked for you
  • Join advisory groups to talk about your experience with healthcare transition

What you need to know:

  • What is health care transition (HCT)?

    Health Care Transition is when you move from a doctor who sees only children to one who sees adults, or when you switch from a family doctor who cares for both children and adults to an adult-focused model of care. This means you take responsibility for your health and make decisions about it.

  • What is health care transition planning?

    HCT planning helps ensure that you have a smooth transition from a pediatric doctor to an adult provider/specialist without any interruption in care.

    Preparing for your health care transition involves some important steps that you should take. Here are some key things to keep in mind and actions to consider:

    • Family medical history
    • Create a medical summary
    • Build a strong support system
    • Create goals that help you on your HCT journey

    HCT has goals that include planning from an early age, teaching about health insurance, supporting independence, understanding healthcare options, and transitioning to adult care.

  • What should I do to start managing my own health care?
    • Speak to your doctor about any health concerns, and try doing this alone.
    • Schedule your own appointments
    • Know your insurance information
    • Know who your doctors/specialists are and their contact information
    • Be aware of both your own medical history and that of your family to ensure proper healthcare.
    • Keep copies of your medical records

    If applicable, 

    • Learn about your medical conditions
    • Know your medications, the name(s), how they affect you, how much you take and how often
    • Refill your prescriptions


    • Ask your doctor for a copy of your medical records
    • Get access to your patient portal
    • Get a summary of your visit from your doctor before you leave their office
  • Steps to manage your doctor appointments

    Prior to your appointment with your doctor:

    • Create a list of questions you want to ask
    • Practice with your family and friends by asking them questions
    • Find out if you have a co-pay to see the doctor

    When you check-in for your appointment:

    • Complete/sign all forms
    • Have a copy of your insurance card
    • Pay your co-pay if you have one

    During your doctor visit:

    • Share with your doctor any medical concerns you have
    • Ask questions if you do not understand what the doctor is saying/doing
    • Answer questions that the doctor asks you
  • What is health insurance?

    Health insurance can be confusing, but by learning more about it during your healthcare journey, you can make it easier to understand and digest.

    A few things you need to know:

    • The name of your insurance carrier
    • How to contact your insurance carrier
    • What does your policy cover

    A few questions for ask your insurance carrier:

    • What is a referral?
    • What is an authorization?
    • Do you need a referral to see a specialist?
    • Do you need authorization for any special equipment you may need?
  • What do I need to know about medications?

    Learning about your medicine, how it makes you feel, and when to refill them is a very important step in the HCT process.

    • What is the name of your medicine
    • Learn why you take it
    • Remember to take it as instructed
    • Keep track of how it makes you feel
    • Learning how to refill your medicine
      • Do you pick it up?
      • Can you refill your order by mail, phone or online?
      • Ask your doctor/pharmacist questions you do not understand

    Things to know about your medication

    • Make sure your name is on the bottle
    • Make sure it is the prescription the doctor ordered
    • Know how many refills you have
    • Take only the amount that is on the label
    • Know where your pharmacy is located
  • How do you find Support?

    You are not alone on this journey, and having a strong support system can help you Step into managing your own healthcare.

    Here are some people to consider as you build your support system to help you STEP UP in a BIG way!

    • Your health care team
    • Your family, parent/guardian
    • Friends
    • Teachers/Counselors
    • Anyone you trust can be apart of your team
  • How can you keep track of all your health information?

    A great way to get prepared in the event of an emergency is to keep a place to store all your information so you can get to it easily.

    • Health Apps
    • Ask you doctor about your patient portal to access your health information
    • Creating a health journal
    • Keep your calendar up to date with appointment and refill information
    • Create a medical health summary with your health care team and family

    To assist emergency personnel in getting you the help you need fast you can also consider:

    • Medical ID bracelet
    • Small wallet card with important health information i.e., health condition, medications you take
    • If you are with someone tell them about your health condition so they are aware


Page last updated 5/23/2024