For the ~75 million millennials in America, health insurance doesn’t mean what it means to their parents. In truth, health insurance today is much different than it was 50 years ago, even 20 years ago. Deductibles are higher, premiums are higher, medical care is more expensive, and different health concerns are more prevalent than before, meaning benefits are morphing.
Here’s what millennials want from health insurance.
About half of millennials don’t have an established primary care provider. They simply go wherever is convenient, and wherever is cheapest. Increasingly, this means telemedicine. A 15 minute call with a telemedicine doctor to get a prescription makes a lot more sense than getting out of bed when you’re sick, getting dressed, scheduling an appointment, sitting in a waiting room, and then seeing a doctor in person for five minutes, all for the same outcome. And, telemedicine visits are much cheaper than in-person visits. Millennials want telemedicine covered under their health plans.
Millennials are not content with the idea that they won’t know the cost of something until after they receive care. This lack of pricing transparency is standard practice in primary care clinics and hospitals alike. It looks like legislators are starting to push for better price transparency, which is great.
Younger people also want transparency with medical benefits. What exactly are they paying premiums for, and what benefits can they take advantage of? For example, what is covered under preventive care at 100%?
People born in 80s and early 90s simply aren’t wealthy as they were expected to be. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reported that family wealth for those born in the 80s was 34 percent below what earlier generations had at the same age. Pair that with astronomical healthcare prices, drug prices, and skyrocketing premiums, and you see why millennials are going to either shop around for healthcare, or skip it altogether.
Research suggests that about 44% of people forego medical care because it costs too much.
The West Health Institute/NORC at the University of Chicago national poll
Consider this: about a third of people ages 19-30 have no significant savings. This means that an unexpected trip to the hospital could literally leave them penniless. For this reason, health plans that offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are becoming increasingly attractive to younger people. HSAs are simply a tax-free savings account which can be used to pay for medical expenses. HSAs must be paired with a high deductible health plan, which generally fits most young lifestyles, as they have few medical needs, on average. High deductible plans usually have lower monthly premiums, which is great for young people who are looking to save and don’t often get sick, meaning they don’t hit even low deductibles.
Many employers contribute to an HSA as part of a health benefit package. A big selling point for millennials is that HSA funds roll over from year to year, meaning they can grow savings and prepare for the future. Compare that to monthly premiums, which provide coverage only while a payment is made every month. With an HSA, if you switch jobs, your health savings come with you. Lastly, you can actually invest your HSA dollars.
Millennials interact with world-class technology every day, so when they encounter dated member dashboards and websites, they are wary. In general, medical technology is lagging, especially with insurance. Most insurance companies make it difficult for members to truly understand their benefits, and to know how to get care at the best price. The younger generation expects to have the tools to self-educate quickly.
Millennials are bound to ask at some point, “why isn’t it easier to understand my health benefits?” Granted, in-network versus out-of-network, deductibles, premiums, maximum out-of-pocket, etc. demand more than a glance to understand. That is why the insurance companies that place emphasis on educating their members will succeed at retaining business.
Lastly, millennials expect to be able to take care of things via apps. Health insurance companies must have an app to remain relevant. In most cases, health insurance companies can save money with an engaged member base, so an app is a clear win-win.
Mental Health Benefits
Young people are facing dramatically increasing amounts of mental illness. It only makes sense to individuals of a younger age to consider mental health problems like any other medical condition. It should be covered by health insurance, and any additional mental health perks, like online counseling, are greatly appreciated.
Today, everything is fast. Communications are texts, banking is on an app, and ordering food is a swipe away. That’s why waiting rooms, surgery wait lists, and 90-day insurance claims processing is so repulsive to the younger generation. Clear, swift communication and benefits are vital.
Top Five Things That Make Millennials Mad About Health Insurance
- Paying thousands in premiums and not seeing or understanding the benefits.
- Having no control over healthcare costs, and not being able to see healthcare prices before claims are processed.
- Bad healthcare and health insurance technology.
- Getting unexpected medical bills.
- Complicated benefit plans.