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Millennial healthcare preferences are a departure from the status quo

Millennials are more likely to be uninsured compared with the older generation, saying it's too expensive.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

As millennials overtake the baby boomers as the largest generation based on U.S. Census Bureau statistics, national nonprofit Transamerica Center for Health Studies has released new research showing how millennials are shaking up traditional healthcare.

The new report analyzes a representative sample of 1,172 millennials from its 6th Annual TCHS Consumer Healthcare Survey conducted in 2018. The analysis focuses on millennials' access to health insurance, how they use and make decisions regarding healthcare, and general trends in their health and wellness. The analysis also provides comparisons with Generation X and baby boomers.

IMPACT

At 16 percent, millennials are more likely to be uninsured compared with the older generations (12 percent of Gen X and 8 percent of boomers), an increasing trend since 2016. When asked why they lack insurance, 60 percent of uninsured millennials say it is too expensive. More so than the older generations, uninsured millennials say that they do not have time to acquire coverage.

One in five millennials are not satisfied with the quality of the healthcare system they have access to -- a dissatisfaction that has increased each year since 2016. This dissatisfaction, coupled with limited finances, may contribute to their reporting less frequent visits to their doctor's office in the past 12 months compared with older generations. They are also more likely than older generations to use online sources to gather information about their health, health insurance and healthcare providers.

Healthcare policy is another issue that attracts more millennial attention than that of older generations. More than half are concerned (57 percent "extremely" or "very" concerned) about the healthcare policy changes in Washington, D.C. Their biggest fear among potential policy changes is losing healthcare because of a pre-existing condition (29 percent).

Millennials do not shy away from mental health and alternative care options. In the past 12 months, millennials were more likely to have one or more mental health visits compared with older generations. Millennials report chiropractic visits or massage therapy (19 percent) and acupuncture visits (13 percent).

Employers also appear to be helping their millennial employees by providing health and wellness programs, and millennials are more receptive to such efforts than older employees.

WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW

Despite their concerns, millennials report the highest levels of health and wellness compared with older generations. Millennials have a positive view of their own health, with 80 percent rating their health as excellent or good. More than half of millennials (55 percent) say their current, most important health-related priority is "staying healthy and covering basic preventive healthcare expenses."

As millennials grow older and increase their economic power and impact on American society, they will continue to disrupt healthcare, the authors of the report said. Given the sheer size of their generation, millennials will demand that the healthcare industry understand and address their distinct needs. By doing so, millennials will also have an effect on how healthcare services are delivered to all generations.

THE TREND

The report jives with prior research showing consumers of all ages are showing more willingness to try nontraditional services such as virtual care and retail clinics, but the trend is more pronounced among younger generations.

For instance, Gen Z and millennials are least likely to have a primary care physician, compared with Gen X, baby boomers and the silent generation; 85 percent of respondents from the silent generation, born between 1928 and 1945, report having a PCP, whereas just 55 percent of Gen Z patients, born from 1997 onward, report the same.

Twitter: @JELagasse

Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com

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