Over the last hundred years, there have been dramatic changes in work and insurance and how those two things are related. While health insurance began as an added workplace benefit, it quickly became something working Americans relied upon to afford healthcare.
As healthcare costs have skyrocketed, wages have stagnated, the cost of living has risen, and the job market has been taken over with freelance and gig positions, many are wondering when healthcare and health insurance will make strides to change with the times.
Healthcare and Health Insurance: How They Relate to Different Generations
Millennials and GenZ have been brought up in a completely different world than their GenX and Baby Boomer predecessors.
Baby Boomers grew accustomed to 40-hour work weeks and health insurance supplied by jobs. GenXers came of age around the time that The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) was passed in 1986. Millennials and GenZers grew up in a time when you either had health insurance or you didn’t. If you really needed healthcare and didn’t have insurance, you could always go to the ER.
These days, health insurance is accessible on the open marketplace. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s affordable or that you can afford to use it. Even with a mandate and an expansion of Medicaid, roughly ten percent of Americans are still uninsured.
Millennials are using primary care physicians less. It’s probably because they are only going to the doctor when they need to go which usually means urgent care or pharmacy-based clinics. They want to know if their doctor is good before they go. Perhaps, it’s because they can’t afford to get a second opinion or they can’t afford to take extra time off in the first place.
They want to be able to pay bills and make appointments online, perhaps because taking care of things during office hours is nearly impossible. They want to have patient-centered healthcare experiences so they can feel they are actually getting care instead of being billed for checking the required boxes.
Most of them want access to their health information digitally because they don’t have time to return for a follow-up and they can’t take time off to call and be placed on hold.
Socioeconomic squeezes mean less time for self-care. Despite that, Millennials are still looking for health insurance and healthcare that are willing to adapt to the changing world. Healthcare providers need to have better customer service and interaction options. This is to keep Millennials interested. Health insurance needs to be portable, affordable, and transparent in order to serve Millennials’ needs best.
The rise of freelancing and the gig economy have exacerbated the need for health insurance.
More than half of Millennials have freelanced and it’s not always by choice. Some choose to do gig work because they like the flexibility. Others reluctantly join the gig or freelance economy after they are unable to find traditional employment.
For all of these cases, people still need access to quality healthcare and health insurance at affordable rates. The old system of doing things has not proven to be conducive to modernization.
Nine in ten Millennials are loyal to brands that are transparent about things like price and terms of service. They don’t have time for surprises and they can’t afford to be vigilant. At the same time, more than half would skip going to the doctor to save money in such a difficult economy.
It’s time for health insurance and healthcare to keep up with the times.
Health insurance companies and healthcare providers need to start outlining costs up front. This will take the guesswork out of gaining access to healthcare. Multiple generations depend on these changes being made in order to be able to afford healthcare.
The younger generations have some seriously different ideas in mind when it comes to the future of healthcare and health insurance. They aren’t going to continue to pay into a system that doesn’t have their back when they need it most.
Learn more about the current state of healthcare and health insurance, as well as what needs to change below.