Millennial Health

Season 16
Episode 1603

In 2019, millennials are the largest living adult generation, and by 2020, nearly half of the U.S. workforce will be millennials, making millennial health and how they consume healthcare an important issue in the healthcare landscape in our country.

Millennials tend to avoid visiting the doctor, specifying “time,” “money,” and “uncertainty” as major factors in skipping physician visits. These factors correspond with generational attitudes regarding cost/benefit; weaned on a series of financial crises, millennials tend toward frugality. And despite student loan debt loads being higher, the average millennial income is lower than that of previous generations.

Not only do other priorities trump preventive healthcare, when millennials actually need medical attention, they tend to utilize the internet to self-diagnose, favoring Google and WebMD. Lacking previous generations’ sense of job security, millennials also dislike skipping work for any reason, opting to visit walk-in clinics or urgent care centers, which keep longer hours and allow them to fit in healthcare around jobs and on weekends.

Millennials are also more mindful of healthy eating than their parents, leading some experts to believe that they rebound faster from run-of-the-mill illnesses.

Changing Motivation

For millennials, cost of healthcare coverage is of primary importance, and they often select insurance plans based on monthly premiums rather than whether or not their regular doctor is in network. This is partially due to the fact that millennials do not tend to have regular doctors, taking an à la carte approach to healthcare. They are also more likely than the previous generation to ask about the cost of treatment before receiving it, and are more likely to delay treatment due to perceived high costs.

When it comes to fitness, 55% of millennials report that their motivation is “to look good,” rather than to “avoid illness”—likely a result of social media’s ubiquity of public photos. And because they don’t make clear distinctions between work and personal hours, citing overtaxed schedules and a poor economy, 40% of millennials say they are more likely to participate in health programs that are “easy or convenient to do,” focusing predominantly on programs that meet their work/life balance needs.

Long-Term Repercussions

While fewer visits to the doctor is seemingly an indicator of better health, repercussions of avoiding physician’s visits can last far longer than any time and money spent on preventive care. Physical and mental health problems ignored for years are much more likely to become worse or last into adulthood.

One-time trips to various doctors and redi-clinics lead to a spotty medical record as well; not having a doctor familiar with one’s overall history can lead to increased cost, as symptoms can be missed and redundant tests are performed. When millennials don’t keep up a relationship with a regular doctor, they also risk receiving lower-quality care, leading to injuries and illnesses remaining entirely untreated.

If the medical industry wishes to avoid an undue burden of sick seniors in forty years, it would do well to address the underlying factors and remove barriers standing between Millennials and health monitoring and treatment.

Source: Keck School of Medicine

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Sanford Health
Sanford Health, one of the largest health systems in the United States, is dedicated to the integrated delivery of health care, genomic medicine, senior care and services, global clinics, research and affordable insurance. Headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the organization includes 44 hospitals, 1,400 physicians and more than 200 Good Samaritan Society senior care locations in 26 states and nine countries. Nearly $1 billion in gifts from philanthropist Denny Sanford have transformed how Sanford Health improves the human condition.
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Since 1929, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) companies have provided healthcare coverage to members, allowing them to live free of worry, free of fear. In every ZIP code, Blue Cross Blue Shield offers a personalized approach to healthcare based on the needs of the communities where their members live and work. They work closely with hospitals and doctors in the communities they serve to provide quality, affordable healthcare.
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