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Millennials more likely to turn down healthcare due to cost

This is partly a byproduct of cost variations, and a lack of trust in the care they're receiving.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Perhaps due to the generation's comfort level with technology, millennials tend to be more aware of what medical care will cost as compared to people in other age groups. A new report from Wolters Kluwer shows 55% of millennials know their medical costs beforehand, while only 41% of baby boomers could say the same.

But that knowledge could be a double-edged sword, as millennials are also twice as likely as boomers to forego medical care due to cost.

This trend has emerged from a growing knowledge, across all generations, that there are cost variations across locations, health systems and even among departments in the same hospital. In the survey, 98% of respondents said they recognize these variations -- and this is forcing them to make some difficult choices.

Consumers are increasingly willing to shop around for better care, for example. Seventy-eight percent said they're likely to travel past the hospital closest to them if a hospital further away has a better reputation.

And 43% of them, many of them millennials, have not moved forward with medical treatments, be they surgical procedures, medication and/or therapy. The reason: a lack of trust in the care they were receiving.

Cost variation has an effect on the provider side of the equation as well. The majority of physicians and nurses surveyed, 79%, say the cost to the patient influences the treatment choices or recommendations they make.

WHAT'S THE IMPACT

Beyond the financial impact of variability, differences in care can create risks for both patients and providers. People who work inside health systems on a day-to-day basis were asked to rank the greatest potential risks.

At the top of that list was a patient receiving suboptimal treatment, or the wrong treatment and medication entirely, because of incomplete or incorrect information. A close second was that care teams aren't aligned on the best care approach for the patient; the third most-cited risk was the impact of a poor patient experience.

"Consumers see these variations in care caused by loss, omission or failure to share information," the authors wrote. "These lead to mistakes in treatment and medications, and costly misalignment of the care 'team' on the best approach to treat the patient."

THE LARGER TREND

National nonprofit Transamerica Center for Health Studies released research in May showing that, at 16%, millennials are more likely to be uninsured compared with the older generations (12% of Gen X and 8% of boomers), an increasing trend since 2016. When asked why they lack insurance, 60% of uninsured millennials say it's too expensive. More so than the older generations, uninsured millennials say they don't 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.

Twitter: @JELagasse

Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com