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FAQs Library >> Health

What is health care transition?

Transition is a planned process to help teens become more independent and move from pediatric health care (or seeing a children's doctor) to adult health care. This takes time, so starting at age 12 or 14 is helpful. Most young people switch to an adult doctor when they are 18 to 21 years old.) Age 14 (or before) is a great time to start talking with a teen's health care provider about their readiness for transition to prepare them for adult care.Transition planning and successful transfers of care are rooted in partnership and collaboration between families, teens, and their health care providers.


Why is transitioning to adult health care important for teens?

  • Becoming more independent about your health care and involved in decision-making
  • A sense of responsibility and control over your own life
  • Finding and treating your health problems
  • Successful health transitions positively impact other areas of life

  • What does transition involve for teens?

  • Learning more about your diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment
  • Learning how to deal with health risks and the challenges of your condition
  • Managing your medications and carrying a list of your medications with you
  • Carrying a portable medical file and your health insurance card
  • Making and keeping your doctors' appointments
  • Knowing when and where to get help for an emergency
  • Asking your doctor questions about ways to improve your health
  • Working with your doctor to find an adult doctor who can care for you
  • Please view the resources designed for teens on this website to take care of your own transition process.


    What is a parent’s or caregiver’s role in their child's transition process?

    Part of the transition process is a child taking increased responsibility for his or her own care, but a child still needs support from parents or caregivers as they enter this process. Parents and caregivers can talk with a child's doctor about the ways they can help their child and doctors smoothly transition. Please view the resources designed for parents and caregivers on this website for supporting teens.


    What can health care providers do to support patients' successful transition?

    Tools and resources for health care providers are available to assist their patients and their patients’ families through this process. Things like transition plans, readiness checklists, and developing and using a transition policy may help health care providers and their patients ease their health care transition.


    What insurance programs might be available for me?

    Individuals who are qualified for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are eligible for Medicaid in the District of Columbia. Learn more about Medicaid services and qualifying for its services.


    Can young adults stay on their parents' or caregivers' insurance past 18?

    If an adolescent has private insurance through a parent's or caregiver's employer, he or she can stay on that insurance plan well past age 18. Learn more about new laws to help young adults stay insured as they get older.


    How do I go about acquiring medical insurance and a doctor?

    If you don't have a private health insurance provider, the first thing you should do in DC is contact the Income Maintenance Administration (IMA), which will determine what type of insurance, if any, you are eligible for. From there, you will be able to choose a physician from a list given to you by your insurance provider.


    What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

    Medicare is a federal insurance program for the elderly (ages 65 and older) and the disabled. Medicaid is a state-funded health insurance program for those who have low incomes. The Income Maintenance Administration determines which you would qualify for, if any, based on your financial status, age, and disability.


    How are DC teens with special health care needs and their families faring when it comes to transition from pediatric to adult health care?

  • Only 34% of DC adolescents with special health care needs are receiving the support they need to transition to adult health care, work and independence, according to the National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs.
  • Adolescents least likely to receive needed transition support are Black, in families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, publicly insured, and without a medical home.
  • For more information, see our DC Health Care Transition Fact Sheet.


    What are teens' and parents' perspectives on health care transition?

  • Health care transition is a new topic for the teens and parents interviewed in our recent focus group study. Although most appeared to be informed about education transition, few teens and parents reported that they talked to the teen's doctor or nurse about transitioning to an adult doctor.
  • Both teens and parents indicated an interest in receiving more information from their child's doctor about adult doctors and health insurance. They preferred face-to-face discussions, but also internet-based information, text messages, and interactive approaches for teens and group meetings or transition kits for parents.

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