Millennials lead generational split on health benefits
Millennials are more likely to partake in cost-saving healthcare decisions than their older counterparts, according to new analysis from EBRI.
Employees born in 1977 or later, the millennial age range in this analysis, are well informed about their health plan and report higher levels of satisfaction with the health plan choices and financial aspects of their health plans than baby boomers and Gen Xers, according to the 2017 “Consumer Engagement in Health Care and Choice of Health Plan” report.
Millennials also are more likely to ask for a generic instead of a brand name drug (47%), develop a budget to manage healthcare expenses (35%) and check whether the health plan would cover care or medication (57%) compared to Generation X or baby boomers, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a nonpartisan research institute based in Washington, D.C.
Paul Fronstin, co-author of the study, attributed the generational attitude differences to the frequency employees interact with the health system and familiarity with technology.
“Older people are not used to using tools like online calculators to figure out health costs,” says EBRI’s director of health research and education program.
On the other hand, older generations have more experience buying and using healthcare than millennials, who are unlikely to contact cancer, heart disease and other illnesses that generally plague middle-aged and older employees, says Fronstin.
“It may be less stressful to pick the wrong plan and it may be coming out in [millennials’] attitudes,” he says. “Millennial attitudes could easily change as they get older and use more healthcare.”
The data comes from a 2015 poll of polled 3,590 adults between the ages of 21 and 64 who had health insurance provided through an employer (82%), purchased directly from a carrier or purchased through a government exchange.
The data, while two years old, doesn’t change the underlying attitudes toward healthcare options and costs, says Fronstin.
Yet determining those attitudes and a corresponding benefits plan is a major struggle for employers, he says.
Baby boomers and millennials “are both big segments of the population that most employers rely on,” Fronstin says. “You’ve got different groups here. If you want to be as effective as possible and get the most productivity, you need to understand where they’re coming from.”