Will your healthcare hold up away from home?

Before sending kids off to college or taking a trip, ensure your coverage will care for you anywhere with this simple checkup.

A healthcare plan is something you rely on to be there every time—and everywhere—you need it. But do you know for sure what happens when you (or family members covered by your plan) hit the road? That question should be top of mind as you send kids off to college or resume traveling, even as the global pandemic lingers.

Delving into the details of your healthcare coverage can be daunting, especially if you've been on the same plan for years and it automatically renews without you even having to think about it. But just like your health, avoiding the full picture can cause bigger problems, so here are some good places to start.

The doctor will see you...online

Virtual doctor visits have been increasing since 2018. And 80% of patients who have had virtual visits would do it again, especially younger people and chronic cases:

US healthcare survey

Source: The Deloitte 2020 Survey of US Healthcare Consumers

Weigh whether it makes sense to keep your child on your plan.

While children are legally eligible to be on your healthcare plan until age 26, it might not be financially feasible to do so. Many colleges offer a student health plan, so be sure to inquire about coverage before they leave for school. In some instances, the student plan may be less expensive than what it costs to keep your child on your plan. If the school doesn't offer a healthcare plan, and staying on a parent's plan isn't an option, young adults can purchase their own health insurance through the federal Health Insurance MarketplaceOpens in a new window, says John O'Shea, Director of Wealth Planning Strategies for TIAA. "Visit HealthCare.govOpens in a new window to learn more about the types of plans that are available as eligibility sometimes depends upon state residence, family dynamics, whether parents still claim the child as a dependent and income level," he says.

Check that the services you use will be seamless.

If you have a kid going off to college or if you plan on traveling for an extended period, call your current healthcare company to ensure that your coverage still fits your lifestyle. If you take medications, inquire about prescription drug coverage, especially if you may need to get medicines from a different pharmacy. If you or a student is using mental health services, ask how therapy or counseling coverage will continue away from home—this includes telehealth benefits, which have become increasingly popular during the pandemic and may continue to be fully covered depending on the carrier. Also be sure you know what the copay and deductible amounts are, as well as the cancellation policy.

Consider a durable power of attorney for healthcare and financial matters.

Though it may be hard for parents to see their children as adults, in the eyes of the law, that's exactly what they are once they turn 18. That means, as their parents, you no longer have a say in their financial or medical decisions unless your child chooses to allow you to do so.

By setting up a durable power of attorney, parents can still help make financial or medical decisions for their children when it's necessary to do so. This ranges from medical emergencies that may render your child unable to make their own decisions, to financial matters that would require you to access their bank account, such as paying a long-overdue bill or selling the car that's been sitting in your garage for two years.

If you don't have a durable power of attorney, and you find yourself in a situation where you need to make these kinds of decisions, you would then need to petition the probate court to become your child's guardian to make medical decisions or their conservator to make financial ones. "It's a cumbersome process to go through at a very stressful time in people's lives," says O'Shea.

Fortunately, setting up a durable power of attorney is a painless process. O'Shea recommends visiting the website of your state's bar association, where you can often find the forms available for download online. Your family attorney also can help you draft a durable power of attorney document.

Discover More

Financial Planning

Perspectives for uncertain times

Get insights from TIAA experts.


3 tips to help you plan for healthcare in retirement

As healthcare costs continue to rise, learn ways to save and prepare.

Take Action

Call us

We're here to answer your questions and guide you towards the right solution.​


Weekdays, 8 A.M. to 10 P.M. (ET)

Schedule an appointment​

You can schedule a time convenient for you to meet with a financial professional.​

Read more in Perspectives​

Get financial and investment insights from TIAA experts​.