University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

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 their needs
  • A greater responsibility for their own care and well-being