How Are Millennials Experiencing Healthcare and Affecting Its Future?

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

Whether they want to or not, Millennials are always making the news. They are the largest, most educated and most connected  group the world has ever known. Endless articles and hot takes pore over their choices in music and food, not to mention how they are disrupting and revolutionizing everything from how we get around to where we stay. And with good reason — they became the workforce majority at the end of 2015, and by 2025 are expected to make up 75 percent of the workforce. Whether we, or they, like it or not, they are trendsetters.

 And that certainly applies to Millennials and their relation to personal health, and healthcare. They value health and wellness highly, and that manifests itself in everything from a plethora of diet and exercise apps to more physical fitness and less smoking than previous generations. More than any group before them, they have mastered the pairing of technology and lifestyle to keep tabs on their own heath.


Coupling Health Awareness with Health Issues

But is that paying off? For those born between 1981 and 1996, a surface examination would appear to say yes. They seem to have taken control of their health-related destiny, but there are outside forces that provide strong headwinds.

According to a study by Moodys Analytics and Information, Millennials are projected to experience slower economic growth and pay more in healthcare costs, which could result in economic damage as well as negatively affect their financial well-being. For example a BCBSA survey reports that: 

  • 54 percent say they think of their financial status before making healthcare decisions, compared to only 21 percent of Baby Boomers.
  • 52 percent say their current health insurance is very or extremely impactful on their decision to stay with their current employer.
  • 67 percent say they only see a doctor when they are sick or in urgent need of care.

Worries about debt, whether it be student loan-related or around rising home prices and other cost of living, also plays a part. Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index data looks at Millennial health patterns and returns some sobering information. According to the report:

  • Millennials are seeing their health decline faster than the previous generation, including both physical health conditions, such as hypertension and high cholesterol, and behavioral health conditions, such as major depression and hyperactivity.
  • These accelerated declines will result in greater demand for treatment and higher healthcare costs in the years ahead. 

How Millennials Are Changing Healthcare

The good news is, Millennials are well aware of the issue, and are taking their usual information-fueled and proactive approach. According to Forbes, they have very strong opinions about what they want from the healthcare system, and they are not being shy about their demands. Heres how they are shaking things up:

Fewer primary care relationships. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 38 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds have a primary care provider, preferring to engage in retail walk-in clinic visits vs. visiting a doctors office. Thats a stark difference from older generations, about 85 percent of which have a primary care physician relationship. That means a continued shift toward on-demand healthcare, where speed of delivery and availability may trump relationship building.

An informed consumer. Yes, Millennials do their medical research; some of it fact-based, some of it anecdotal, just like every generation before them. They report trusting peers more than their physician and say that information they find online is as reliable as what they might get from a medical professional. Even so, they also look at reviews of physicians and healthcare providers, so all told they enter the medial sphere with a good bit of information. 

No sticker shock Millennials want to find out what healthcare is going to cost — up front. They are more likely to price shop for healthcare and are more likely to forgo care if they find it to be too expensive.

Apps, apps and more apps. This is a generation build on technology, and they want digital options. From appointment scheduling to records receipt and appointment reminders, they want it all coming to their smartphone.

Millennials look at healthcare like they do many other aspects of life: as something that needs an overhaul. They want to live healthy, active lives and want to do so on their terms. That means demanding non-traditional options in a very staid, traditional and slow-moving sector, which can (and is) creating tension between providers and this population. The good news is, there are plenty of Millennials in the healthcare field, from doctors and nurses to researches and IT professionals, so their voices are being heard, and acted upon.

Millennials are also changing healthcare from the inside, as its large generation of employees. They are clearly changing the way we look at education and retention. Millennials are looking for organizations with a socially responsible mission and offering socially conscious training is becoming increasingly more important for organizations. Are you prepared to navigate the workforce of tomorrow? Hear from Leana McGuire, Director of Learning and Development at United Surgical Partners, on working with different generations and how to take a proactive approach to socially conscious issues by educating tomorrows workforce. Download our recent webinar about working with multiple generations in the healthcare workforce