Millennials: Digital Natives Disrupting Healthcare


To gain insight into Millennials and healthcare, Transamerica Center for Health Studies® (TCHS) analyzed data from its 6th Annual Consumer Healthcare Survey. The new report, Millennials: Digital Natives Disrupting Healthcare, illuminates the pressures they face that impact their healthcare decisions, their access to healthcare, their perception of the U.S. healthcare system, and their current state of health. The research offers clear trend analysis and actionable insights for the general public.

Key Findings

Millennials are shaking up healthcare as we know it. This study reveals that compared with older generations Millennials:

  • Have less insurance, less disposable income, and less ability to afford prescription drugs
  • Visit a doctor’s office less frequently
  • Are more likely to rely on digital sources of health information than personal contact

Despite this, Millennials report being:

  • Healthier, more interested in workplace wellness, and more interested in healthy workplace food options
  • More likely to visit a mental health professional
  • More likely to save for healthcare expenses and more aware of potential changes to health policy

Number of Uninsured Millennials Continues to Increase

Though most Millennials (66 percent) are privately insured, the percentage of uninsured Millennials (16 percent) has steadily increased since 2016, and Millennials are more likely to be uninsured compared with other age groups. Millennials (11 percent) are also the generation most likely to receive benefits through Medicaid; more for older Millennials compared to younger (13 percent vs. 9 percent).

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Uninsured in 2018

Affordability is a Major Barrier for the Uninsured

16% of Millenails report being uninsured. 11% do not have time to acquire coverage. 60% indicate that it's too expensive or they cannot afford coverage.

Indeed, Millennials (16 percent vs. 12 percent of Gen X and 8 percent of Boomers) are more likely to report being uninsured, an increasing trend since 2016. When asked why they lack insurance, 60 percent of uninsured Millennials say it is too expensive/they cannot afford it—and more than any other generation, uninsured Millennials (11 percent) indicate that they do not have time to acquire coverage.


Difficulty affording healthcare and other expenses is a common theme among Millennials. Forty-four percent feel their health insurance premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses increased within the last year. Millennials also face a host of significant stresses – health and otherwise – at greater levels than older generations, including:


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Millennials Visit Doctor’s Offices the Least

More than any other generation, Millennials (21 percent) say they are “not at all” or “not very satisfied” with the quality of healthcare to which they have access — a dissatisfaction that has increased since 2016. This dissatisfaction, coupled with limited finances, may contribute to why Millennials reported visiting their doctor’s office less often (32 percent with no visits vs. 31 percent of Gen Z, 27 percent of Gen X, and 19 percent of Boomers) than other generations from 2015-2018.

Millennials Are More Committed to Employers That Support the Health and Well-Being of Their Employees

More than half of Millennials (53 percent) indicate they are staying at their current job because they need the health insurance. Four in 10 Millennials (40 percent) say they had to leave a previous job because the company did not offer health insurance and health benefits. Seventy percent of Millennials say they would have greater commitment to their company if they offered programs to improve their health and well-being, more than any other generation. Among the 39 percent of workers who are offered worksite health programs, Millennials are most likely to take advantage of them:

  • Healthy food options (41 percent vs. 20 percent of Gen X and 28 percent of Boomers)
  • On-site health clinics (35 percent vs. 15 percent of Gen X and 17 percent of Boomers)
  • Individual mental or physical health tracking through a wearable device or online program (30 percent vs. 18 percent of Gen X and 19 percent of Boomers)
  • Mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or relaxation training (29 percent vs. 15 percent of Gen X and 11 percent of Boomers)

I would have greater commitment to my company if they offered programs to improve my health and well-being.

I have to stay at my current job because I need the health insurance.

I had to leave a previous job because the company did not offer health insurance and health benefits.

Man at podium illustration

Millennials Are Most Aware of Potential Changes to Healthcare Policy

As for policy, Millennials (30 percent) are the generation most likely to say they are “extremely” or “very aware” of healthcare policy changes in Washington, D.C. (20 percent of Gen X and 20 percent of Boomers), of which most (57 percent) are “extremely” or “very concerned” about these policy changes. Millennials’ biggest policy-related fear (29 percent) is losing their healthcare because of a pre-existing condition.

Conclusion

As millions of Millennials enter their peak spending and earning years, understanding their unique consumption patterns, beliefs, and underlying values will be crucial in shaping the modern healthcare landscape. Millennial preferences represent a departure from those of older generations, but certain elements of traditional healthcare are beneficial, regardless of financial constraints. The Millennial trend of avoiding the doctor’s office sets a dangerous precedent for themselves and younger generations that follow in their footsteps. As health systems address this, and adapt to Millennial preferences through modalities such as telemedicine, providers will be in a better position to also care for Generation Z, a younger but comparable generation to Millennials, many of whom will lose eligibility and coverage on their parents’ insurance at age 26.

Healthcare providers looking to better serve Millennials can make their expertise more accessible to these digital natives through mobile technology and social media. Constantly connected and increasingly informed, Millennials often seek out low-cost, holistic practitioners, and likely appreciate employers that offer health-related perks that keep e mployees healthy and productive. Healthcare services that Millennials can integrate into their daily routine to save them time and money, such as workplace wellness programs, will likely remain particularly popular with this demographic. Furthermore, Millennials will seek more accessible healthcare, more flexibility for supporting family, more mental health services, and guaranteed pre-existing condition coverage. Perhaps even more importantly, healthcare leaders who address these priorities will play a key role in supporting the largest living generation10 in the U.S., at this time in which health outcomes are crucial to the overall success and health of our economy and country.

Download the Report and Whitepaper

Millennials: Digital Natives Disrupting Healthcare

The new report, Millennials: Digital Natives Disrupting Healthcare, illuminates the pressures Millennials face that impact their healthcare decisions, their access to healthcare, their perception of the U.S. healthcare system, and their current state of health. The analysis also trends data from annual TCHS reports going back to 2013.


Survey Report Whitepaper

About the Authors

Hector
De La Torre

Executive Director

Hector De La Torre is the Executive Director of TCHS, as well as a board member at LA Care, the largest public health plan in the United States, and a Trustee at Occidental College. De La Torre served as a State Assemblymember for California’s 50th District from 2004 -2010. Prior to that, he was Mayor and Councilmember in his hometown of South Gate. He has a bachelor’s degree in Diplomacy and World Affairs from Occidental College and attended the Elliot School of International Affairs at The George Washington University.

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Chris
Wells

National Program Manager

Christopher Wells is the National Program Manager for TCHS. Christopher started his career as an Epidemiologist for the Bureau of Women’s and Children’s Health at the Arizona Department of Health Services and then became Senior Technical Advisor for The Carter Center, where he led global health initiatives to eradicate neglected tropical diseases. He attended Arizona State University, Tulane University, and Johns Hopkins University and holds bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Psychology, and a master’s in Public Health.

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Giselle
Dizon

Program Specialist

Giselle Dizon serves as Program Specialist for TCHS. Giselle is passionate about the intersection of mental health and the law, and eliminating the stigma around the subject of mental health. She aspires to apply her passion for mental health in curating and creating content that empowers consumers in navigating the complex systems of both mental health treatment and the U.S. healthcare system. Giselle is a graduate of the University of Southern California, with a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience and minor in Psychology & Law.

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About Transamerica Center for Health Studies®

Transamerica Center for Health Studies® (TCHS) – a division of the Transamerica Institute® – is focused on empowering consumers and employers to achieve the best value and protection from their health coverage, as well as the best outcomes in their personal health and wellness. TCHS engages with the American public through national surveys, its website, research findings and consumer information. TCHS also collaborates with healthcare experts and organizations that are equally focused on health coverage and personal health and wellness.

Transamerica Institute® is a nonprofit, private foundation funded by contributions from Transamerica Life Insurance Company and its affiliates, as well as unaffiliated third parties. None of the contributors are major medical insurers.

TCHS and TI and their representatives cannot give ERISA, tax, or legal advice, and TCHS is not an agent of any government agency including, but not limited to, state or federal health benefit exchanges. This material is provided for informational purposes only.

TCHS and its representatives are not registered brokers, navigators, applicant assistors, or promoters. Although care has been taken in preparing this material and presenting it accurately, TCHS disclaims any express or implied warranty as to the accuracy of any material contained herein and any liability with respect to it. For more information, please visit TCHS at www.transamericacenterforhealthstudies.org

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