Health Care Transition to Adulthood

Health care transition to adulthood is the process of getting ready for health care as an adult. During childhood, parents usually help with medical needs—they make appointments, fill out forms, and keep track of medications. As youth get older, managing medical needs becomes their own responsibility. Achieving this independence needs an organized planning process to learn health care skills, prepare for an adult model of care, and transfer to new providers. Some youth will continue to need help from family members or a legal guardian after age 18 to meet their needs. This process of health care transition to adulthood happens over several years.

For youth with special health care needs, health care transition to adulthood includes:

  • Learning more about their condition and how to manage it
  • Shifting from providers that serve children to providers that serve adults
  • Obtaining health insurance that meets needs
  • A greater responsibility for their own care and well-being

By learning more about their condition, youth with special health care needs will be better able to make informed decisions about the future. At age 18, youth officially become adults. This title comes with new independence, new responsibilities, and a new system of services, resources, and supports. Parents or caregivers, who have often been the main advocates for their child, will encourage and support them as they become young adults and adjust to a new level of independence and responsibility. Whenever possible, young adults with special health care needs should take the lead in planning for their own transitions, applying for programs that meet their needs, and finding ways to incorporate their strengths into their future plans.

Child Health Specialty Clinics provides support and assistance through this journey.

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