Summer isn’t quite over yet, but it’s almost back-to-school season. For parents, this means that it’s time to make a list of all the things your child needs for the new school year. As you begin to shop for new notebooks, pencils, binders, and clothes, don’t forget your child’s school-related health checklist. Now is the time to schedule appointments and beat the rush, as health care providers are usually busy just before the school year begins. TRICARE provides several clinical preventive services for children.
“A checkup with the doctor is a chance for children to get a thorough physical exam that also addresses any emotional, developmental, or any other questions and concerns that parents may have,” said Dr. Stacy Usher, lead nurse consultant of Clinical Oversight and Integration for the TRICARE Health Plan, Defense Health Agency. “TRICARE covers many preventive health services with no out-of-pocket costs for families.”
Follow this checklist for your child’s back-to-school health care needs.
1. Routine health screenings and physicals
Get a health checkup for your children while they’re still on vacation. As a result, your doctor can confirm they’re healthy and illness-free before they rejoin their classmates. Also, some schools require a physical for enrollment. TRICARE covers physicals when they’re required for school enrollment. This doesn’t include sports physicals, which are separate. TRICARE doesn’t cover annual sports physicals.
For younger children, TRICARE covers well-child exams from birth until age 6.
This is a great time for your children to catch up on routine immunizations. Their doctor will review their immunization records and confirm that they’re up to date and meet the school’s requirements. You can get covered vaccines from any TRICARE-authorized provider at no cost. But you may have to pay copayments or cost-shares for the office visit or for other services received during the same visit. Keep in mind, you can also get some covered vaccines at no cost at TRICARE retail network pharmacies.
Did you know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends COVID-19 vaccines for everyone 6 months and older and boosters for everyone 5 years and older, if eligible? Use the CDC’s COVID-19 booster tool to learn if and when your child or teen can get boosters to stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines.
3. Dental checkups and cleanings
When was the last time your child saw the dentist? Scheduling a dental cleaning will allow your child’s dentist to look for potential problems before they get worse. If you can schedule appointment in the summer, it’ll ensure that your child doesn’t need to miss a day of school because of a dental appointment. TRICARE offers dental coverage to active duty family members (including National Guard and Reserve family members) through the TRICARE Dental Program. According to the TRICARE Dental Program Handbook, TDP covers two routine cleanings and two fluoride treatments during a consecutive 12-month period for children ages 1 and older. You can enroll your children in TDP at any time.
If your child has dental coverage through the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program, follow the rules of that plan.
4. Vision screenings
A simple eye exam can show if a child is having any vision issues and ensure that their eyes are healthy overall. You can get routine eye exams, depending on your beneficiary status, your health plan, and your age. Children of active duty service members can get annual eye exams. Children of retired service members with TRICARE Prime can get routine eye exams every two years.
If your child has vision coverage through FEDVIP, follow the rules of that plan.
5. Mental health check
Your child’s mental health is also important. It’s something that you can bring up with their doctor, especially if you have questions or concerns. TRICARE covers medically and psychologically necessary mental health services for families during times of stress, depression, grief, and anxiety. If care is needed, keep in mind, you don’t need a referral or pre-authorization for most outpatient mental health care. This includes services like therapy and counseling.
While you’re scheduling appointments for your child, don’t forget about preventive screenings for yourself or other family members. Check the Getting Preventive Care page to learn how to get care under your TRICARE health plan. Your whole family can use this time to stay on top of their health.