Between Two Worlds: Adolescents and Our Health Care System

December 15, 2014

Adolescence is a time of physical, emotional, and cognitive transition between the worlds of childhood and adulthood. This time can include the onset of chronic conditions such as obesity, hypertension, and schizophrenia, yet teens may have difficulty accessing appropriate care for their physical and mental health needs. Emerging models around the country may be improving adolescents’ access to appropriate care, but the evidence suggests many needs are not being met.

Can new models of integrating behavioral and physical health better meet the needs of adolescents? Are health care providers adequately trained to understand the key developmental features and social environment of adolescents? Do inner city teens have different needs than their rural peers? Are teens able to find affordable health coverage? A distinguished panel of experts addressed these and related questions.

If you were unable to attend the briefing, here are some key takeaways:
Leslie Walker, chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital and professor and vice chair of faculty affairs in the Department of Pediatrics at the University Of Washington School Of Medicine
There is inequitable access to appropriate care across the country for adolescents during their most formative years, Dr. Leslie Walker stated. The right interventions at an early age can change the trajectory of a person’s health well into adulthood; and integration is key for providing accessible, appropriate and affordable care to adolescents in rural and urban environments, she added.
Genevieve (Jenny) Kenney, co-director and a senior fellow in the Health Policy Center of the Urban Institute
Dependent coverage provisions in the ACA resulted in a decline in the uninsured rate for adolescents between 18 and 24, and may be causing the uninsured differential between older and younger adolescents to narrow, Jenney Kenney said. Many adolescents could lose the coverage gains that have been made, if CHIP funding is not renewed after October 1, 2015.
Victoria Ward, Bronx regional director, Psychosocial Services at the Institute for Family Health of Greater NY
Adolescents can benefit from integrated care because of co-morbidity between physical and mental health disorders, Victoria Ward stated. Electronic health records and access to a patient portal are important tools for achieving this.

Tamara Smith, CEO of the YWCA of the National Capital Area
What is needed, Tamara Smith noted, is better integration of health care service delivery systems; and legislative and policy initiatives that prevent violence. She added that strategic partnerships with community based organizations and other stakeholders are important to connecting teens with resources in their communities.

Ed Howard of the Alliance moderated the discussion.

Twitter: #TeenHealth

Contact: Deanna Okrent (202)789-2300

The event was sponsored by the nonpartisan Alliance for Health Reform and the Centene Corporation.


Full Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Speaker Presentations

Leslie Walker Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Jenny Kenney Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Tamara Smith Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Victoria Ward Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Event Details

Agenda (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Speaker Biographies (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Event Resources