Even as millennials withdraw from some of the habits and behaviors associated with their parents, such as home ownership, cable TV and physical banking, there is one area where the generation follows traditional expectations: healthcare.
Millennials highly value healthcare and are surprisingly traditional in the way they consume it, according to a new study by the Benenson Strategy Group (BSG). Over 1,000 millennials were polled for the study, which shows 86% carry health insurance and the majority considers it a critical employee benefit.
Health Insurance More Essential Than Internet
BSG found that, of the 86% of millennials with health insurance, more than half get it through avenues expanded by Obamacare, such as individual plans, their parent’s plan or Medicaid. For those without, cost is the main deterrent, followed by good health. This generation also views insurance as indispensable – 85% said it’s absolutely essential or very important to have health insurance, ranking it ahead of home Internet, mobile phone data, TV and entertainment.
Ranks as No. 1 Employee Benefit
Millennials, who recently overtook baby boomers as the largest segment of the workforce, want traditional job benefits, and health insurance tops the list. When asked if they’d rather have better insurance or a 10% pay raise, 51% opted for the insurance while 49% chose the money. Millennials also ranked health insurance first out of nine possible employee benefits, followed by retirement account contributions and vacation. Parking and gym memberships ranked lowest.
“Prioritizing security-oriented benefits suggests millennials take a more thoughtful and cautious view of the future than they are often credited for in the media,” said BSG Managing Partner Danny Franklin. “Understanding how this generation gathers information and uses medical services can help both employers and healthcare providers better communicate with millennials and serve them, particularly as their needs shift.”
Experience with System Breeds Distrust
Though millennials are happy with their insurance and 60% are favorable toward Obamacare, they’re concerned about the system. Forty-nine percent believes the U.S. healthcare system is broken, and that number rises with age, with 54% of older millennials believing as much versus 40% of younger millennials. As far as trust goes, healthcare providers such as doctors, nurses and hospitals are on the top of the list, while health insurance and pharmaceutical companies are on the bottom.
Pessimism Abounds with Trump
The millennial generation neither trusts President Donald Trump on healthcare nor expects him to improve it. BSG found that only 22% of millennials trust Trump on healthcare policy, including just 45% of Republicans, 15% of Democrats and 13% of independents studied.
Most also expect their health insurance options to deteriorate under Trump – 47% of millennials believe they’ll get worse, 31% believe they’ll improve and 22% believe they’ll remain the same. Similarly, 44% of millennials expect Trump’s eventual plan to repeal and replace Obamacare will undermine healthcare quality, compared to 35% who said it will improve and 21% who said it will stay the same.
“Even though most millennials do not expect healthcare improvements from the Trump administration, they still place a high value on health insurance and care about what happens to the system,” said Franklin. “Policymakers who jeopardize millennials’ insurance options risk alienating this younger set of voters and that could carry long-term political consequences.”
Traditional Approach to Healthcare for Untraditional Generation
In spite of being the most connected generation, the Internet is not a healthcare cure-all for millennials. While the vast majority use online healthcare sources to gather information, just 11% of millennials use online research to avoid traditional doctors. It serves as more of a back-up source for them. When they have serious medical issues or questions, 76% reach out to a healthcare provider. What’s more, less than one-third said they trust medical content they find online.
The 2017 Millennials and Healthcare Study was conducted online by Benenson Strategy Group between Jan. 27 to Feb. 1, 2017. The survey results are based upon 1,002 random online interviews conducted nationally among adults aged 18-34 using an online panel sample from Precision Sample. This random has a worst-case 95% confidence interval of ±3.1% about any one reported percentage. Additional interviews were fielded March 11 and 12, 2017.
Among the 1,002 respondents, 49% percent were male and 51% were female. Forty three percent consider themselves independents, 35% Democrats and 22% Republicans.