What do millennials expect from health care?

March 5, 2018 / By Jacob Amezcua

64 percent of Americans avoid or delay medical care because of high costs, and I fall smack dab in the middle of that statistic; I avoid medical care like the plague. I chose an insurance plan with a deductible that is astronomical, so I’ll never hit it. To me, what’s almost worse than the cost of care is the scheduling, wasted time and  overall inconvenience of the whole process.

But, something I can’t avoid is my epilepsy disorder. Consequently, the worst part of the year is when I have to go through the annual process of renewing my Lamictal prescription.

This time around was especially bad. I went to a new primary care provider that just opened close to my home. First, I entered the office and the nice receptionist at the front desk handed me an iPad. It asked some personal questions, and then told me to pay  $55 dollars. No explanation as to why, so, I swiped my card and took a chair in the crowded waiting room.

Since I didn’t want to read the Better Homes and Gardens or Good Housekeeping magazines splayed over the coffee tables, I people-watched instead. The waiting room, full of mostly older folks, was buzzing with agitation. During my 20-minute wait, I saw at least three people unload their frustration onto the poor receptionist about issues such as medication costs and scheduling dilemmas.

The actual visit took just five minutes. But hey, I got to leave work early, listen to an audiobook during my 35-minute drive home and get in some people-watching during my waiting room stint.

Fast forward to this week: I open a piece of mail from my doctor’s office. It’s a $65 dollar bill for that same visit. Wait—what was the $55 dollar iPad payment for? I have a high deductible plan, and as far as I’m concerned, I don’t have copays. Is this a mistake? Was this the receptionist’s fault?!

One call with the billing office later, I learned the total visit cost was $120 dollars; I had just paid it in parts (I’m not sure why). But the receptionist, who I was suspicious of, is not to blame.

I have higher expectations from health care: Cost transparency, convenience, efficiency. It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again: I want my healthcare experience to be as easy as shopping on Amazon. That way I can look for what I need, compare prices, receive my treatment at my convenience, pay and move on with my life.

I’m not the only annoying millennial who thinks this way. Consider these facts::

  • Millennials are three times more likely to be frustrated with “having to schedule an appointment” than any other age group.
  • Nearly 6 in 10 millennials have little to no understanding of their health insurance benefits.
  • 92 percent are likely to switch providers if not completely satisfied with their healthcare team.
  • 40 percent compare healthcare costs among providers (compared to 22 percent of baby boomers).
  • 66 percent diligently research healthcare providers before making a selection.

With patient out-of-pocket payments now accounting for 30 percent of healthcare revenue, the stakes are rising to drive more consumer-focused health care and payment. We see the  the market shifting toward this in big ways with new initiatives launched by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan, CVS and Aetna, UnitedHealth and Walgreens, plus an assortment of new telehealth companies and initiatives—all with the goal of driving more value for the consumer.

Am I optimistic about the future of health care being more consumer-friendly? New partnerships and technologies have certainly started the ball rolling so, I try to be. I hope so. Mostly for the sake of all of the abused hospital receptionists out there.

Jacob Amezcua, marketing communications associate with 3M Health Information Systems.

Our four-part webinar series showcases the steps necessary to build and manage a truly information-driven health plan.