January 30, 2023

Economic Backbone

Health care & millennials

Say 'Ahhhh' to the App

When Sarah Crilley's throat was so raw she could barely swallow, she called her doctor. As she described her symptoms, she took out her iPhone and took a picture of her throat. With a few taps on the screen, Crilley sent the photo to her doctor miles away in his office. "It was so convenient," she says. "I had a prescription a few hours later."

Tech-savvy and cost-conscious millennials such as 25-yearold Crilley are driving big changes in health care delivery. Many no longer want or need much face-to-face interaction with a physician. They want convenience, and they use technology to get it. "They want mobile apps and digital tools that will help them manage their health and wellness, and they want them at the touch of a finger," says Ceci Connolly, managing director of the Health Research Institute.

One such health app is CellScope's Oto, which combines an app with an attachment that lets you turn your iPhone into an otoscope, the instrument physicians use to look into theear. The attachment allows young parents to capture, on video, an examination of their children's ears and send it to a physician.

Along with apps, experts say social media will play an increasing role in health care. Baptist Health South, for example, tries to engage the community with a mobile app people can use to find the closest emergency rooms and shortest wait times using their cellphones. It also uses Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, FourSquare, Instagram and LinkedIn. Members and patients also are using social media to communicate with insurance companies and providers. The Health Research Institute said physicians who want to engage the millennial generation are going to have to learn to use social media and allow millennials to contact them digitally.

Jean Hippert, senior vice president of PNC Healthcare, says the insurers and health care providers who adapt sooner rather than later to the preferences of this young, technology-driven generation will survive and thrive.

Eye on the Bottom Line

For Jimmy Sinis, a 30-year-old Miami designer/manager, being a marathon runner pays off. Not only is Sinis exercising, his hobby allows him to get the points he needs to reach the gold level and earn a discount on his employer-sponsored health insurance. “It’s an incentive to be active,” he says.

Sinis says millennials like the idea of receiving an insurance discount for being young, healthy and in good shape. They are participating in company wellness programs and even wearing company-issued fitness tracking devices to keep their insurance costs at a minimum.

A survey by FAIR Health found that the cost of health insurance was a top concern for millennials, unlike members of older generations who tended to select insurance plans based on whether their preferred doctor was included in the network.

The survey found cost-conscious millennials are choosing health plans with high deductibles, banking on their ability to stay healthy and cure themselves with over-the-counter medicine. Sinis’ deductible is $2,000 — “which makes you think twice about going to the doctor,” he says.

Insurers realize they have their work cut out for them in marketing to millennials, who are the largest generation in the U.S. and will grow to dominate the market in the years to come.

Florida Blue says it has recognized that millennials are savvy shoppers. “Many of our educational seminars and community outreach events are aimed at helping millennials understand health insurance and the Affordable Care Act and why it’s important to have insurance and get regular check-ups even for those who are young and healthy,” says Doug Bartel, director of public affairs for Florida Blue.

Bartel says many millennials are comfortable shopping for insurance online, using apps and mobile websites, but Florida Blue also finds some millennials want to speak face-to- face with an adviser — one reason the company has opened 21 retail centers across the state.

Costs: Searching for Deals

If reading your medical bill gets easier and medical costs more reasonable, you will have millennials to thank in part. Millennials are twice as likely as the general population to challenge the cost of their medical care and search for better deals, according to a Price water house Coopers report called “Money Matters: Billing and Payment for a New Health Economy.”

Having grown up comparison-shopping on the internet, 19% of 1,000 consumers ages 25 to 34 said they had asked for a discount on medical care, compared with just 8% of the general population. Millennials also revealed they are nearly twice as likely as the general population to ask for cheaper treatment options and to seek help from providers to pay for costly medical bills, according to the PwC report.

With an eye to the future, more hospitals are working on simplifying the way they bill patients. They are embracing online and mobile bill payments and creating online tools for patients to get estimates — all things that are important to millennials, the PwC report found.

19% Percentage of 1,000 consumers ages 25 to 34 surveyed who have asked for a discount on medical care

8% Percentage of the general population that asked for discounts

Plan Options

Under the Affordable Care Act, young adults are allowed to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until they turn 26. And that’s what many are doing, according to a report by ADP Research Institute. Of employees under age 26 who are eligible for health insurance at work, only 44% took it. However, as they got older, their coverage changed. Three-quarters of eligible employees ages 26 to 39 enrolled in an employer health plan, the survey found.

Tags: Healthcare, Technology/Innovation, Economic Backbone

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