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As you prepare to send your child off to college, let’s not forget to prepare for college your student’s healthcare insurance needs as well. You’re not just helping them pack their bags—you’re stepping into a new phase of parenting. This includes making sure they have everything they need for a healthy start at college, particularly when it comes to healthcare. Here’s how you can smoothly transition into this new role and ensure your child has access to medical care under TRICARE, even miles away from home.

1. Acknowledge the Change

Sending your child to college is a major milestone for any parent. It’s a time filled with mixed emotions—pride in their achievements and anticipation of their future, coupled with the inevitable worries about their well-being. Recognizing this change is essential in preparing yourself mentally and emotionally to support them from afar.

2. Update Healthcare Insurance Coverage Promptly

Moving to college is considered a Qualifying Life Event (QLE) by most healthcare insurances, including Tricare allowing you to update your child’s health plan. Ensure you make any necessary changes within 90 days of their move. Keeping their “student status” updated in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) ensures that your child’s coverage continues without interruption.

3. Research Healthcare Providers Early

Before your child even sets foot on campus, take the time to research doctors and healthcare facilities near their college that accept TRICARE. This proactive step is crucial:

  • Ease of Access: Finding healthcare providers close to the college ensures your child won’t have to travel far for medical care.
  • Less Stress: Knowing these details in advance can significantly reduce stress for both you and your child if they need medical attention.

4. Decide on the Best Healthcare Insurance Plan

We’re going to use Tricare for an example here. Depending on where your child’s college is located, their TRICARE options might vary:

  • TRICARE Prime: This is a good option if the college is within a Prime Service Area and your child prefers having a primary care manager (PCM).
  • TRICARE Select: Offers more flexibility, allowing your child to visit any TRICARE-authorized provider, which might be preferable if the college is outside of a Prime Service Area.

5. Stay Connected

As your child transitions into college life, maintain open lines of communication about their health and well-being. Encourage them to inform you about any health issues and guide them on how to access medical services when needed.


The transition to college is an exciting time for your child and a new chapter in parenting for you. Taking steps to ensure their healthcare is in order before they leave not only helps in managing potential medical situations but also gives you peace of mind. Remember, preparing now makes it easier for both of you to focus on what’s truly important—embracing this new adventure.

By addressing healthcare early, you’re not just preparing them for college, but you’re also showing that you care about their well-being, no matter how far they go. So take a moment to research, update, and discuss their healthcare options—it’s one of the best send-off gifts you can give them.

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