So I was conversing with someone this past weekend and some how the conversation drifted to the topic of pediatricians turning patients away once they are 18 years of age. Oh the infamous “When your child is 18, you need to find them another doctor,” saying. The patient I spoke to is now 18 1/2 and the doctor hasn’t mentioned it again so far and the family is happy for now because it is so very hard finding new doctors and especially harder to find one you can trust. So I chimed in and said “To Me...I feel a Ped shouldn’t turn a patient away at 18, I believe it should be at the minimum age of 22 and maximum age of 35.” There are a few factors as to why I believe this, so let me explain.
As a professional patient who of course was once 18, I too have had this said to me. As I am sure you all have. But even as an 18 year old adult, under my mothers insurance I was still considered a “child” until I actually hit 22 years of age. So reason one, Why does insurance allow the “child” to be on the parents policy until 22 but a doctor turns them away at 18..? A bit contradictory don’t you think? According to the US Department of Health & Human Services, a child/young adult can stay on a parent/s insurance policy up until the age of 26 and even then, they can enroll in another special health care program that is still not considered independent adult enrollment. (Link provided below in the comment section.)
Reason two, what about patients like me who have a long and complicated medical history and yet the moment I turned 18 my Ped turned me away with no one to help me manage or diagnose my conditions early enough. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) the adolescent age is a minimum of 21 years of age-up to 30 years of age. Physiological, Psychological and Overall Brain and Body development for adolescent is in dyer need of continued pediatric and or its own bracket of care and services up until the third decade of life. 30 years old. (Link to the AAP is provided belo in comment section.) Even the AAP has stated on their page/website that 30yr old patients are considered young adults or adolescents still. These statements themselves just back up why we fight at Invisible Wave Movement and why we want new or improved policies for young adult care. Adults that are between the ages of 18-35 are a completely missed and forgotten age group. The American Academy of Pediatrics has also stated on their page that they believe that pediatricians are the best and most equipped doctors for young adults especially those with medical conditions that are already being or have been treated by that ped, instead of being sent to another adult doctor who isn’t as equipped or ready to treat a young adolescent/adult.
And for my third reason, the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB, Link provided in comment section) states that they aren’t even pushing the actual age of 18 to be the cutoff and that it may be in the best interest of the patient to still be seen by a Ped nurse or doctor until they can get a good replacement for their health issues. Especially those with serious medical childhood conditions that are then carried into adult hood. The health care system basically leaves the young adult bracket with no real direction or medical professionals that truly know and can help this age group. We are cut off at 18 and left with no one to truly help us until its time for geriatric care. This leaves so many to suffer alone and in silence for years. This leaves room for more complications and health conditions and/or even death. So again here I am with IWM trying to help my fellow adult. Trying to bring light to a serious issue. We are left with no specific doctors, no real health plans and no real policies that protect our age group. I’m hoping that one day we can have something in place to help protect and serve our age bracket and maybe even save a few lives along the way. We may have been left behind but now is our time to finally say “Where is the care we deserve? When will we be finally taken care of and cared about? Our Health Matters Too!”
So as I wrap up this blog I want you all to remember that you do have a voice and that you do matter and that you deserve quality care and a professional who can provide that. With IWM we are working hard trying to raise awareness for this issue and help generate better policies for our community and age bracket. We may have been forgotten in the past but we moving forward with and for our own future. We matter and they will know that. Until next time. Many spoons and love to all.
— Belinda The Chronically Ill Queen