Gen Z, Millennials Grow Disillusioned with Their Health Insurance

Surprise bills and billing errors are driving growing dissatisfaction among Millennials and Gen Zers with their health insurance, a new study has found.

HealthCare.com‘s “2022 Medical Debt Survey” found that about one in four Gen Zers and Millennials with medical debt skipped rent or mortgage payments because of their debt. That’s compared with 21% for Gen Xers and 12% for baby boomers.

The study reflects the increasing burden that health insurers’ policies for out-of-network care and higher deductibles are having on Americans, particularly those who are the most recent entrants to the job market. Since they typically earn less than those who have more experience, Millennials and Gen Zers are more susceptible to hardships if they receive unexpected bills.

To help these generations of workers, consider offering them educational sessions on how to choose health plans, coupled with training on how to avoid unexpected health care bills by going to in-network providers, and how to shop around in advance for scheduled procedures.

Already facing outsized medical cost hits, an increase in billing mistakes and surprise bills is contributing to a dim view of health insurance among Millennials and Gen Zers. In fact, 68% of Gen Zers who have health insurance but still incurred medical debt said their health insurance plan didn’t cover the service they received (or they received services out-of-network).

Additionally, the study found that:

  • 39% of Millennials are unsatisfied with their health insurance options.
  • About three in 10 Gen Zers (31%) and Millennials (27%) with medical debt believe that their debt is the result of a billing error.
  • 48% of Millennials have received a surprise medical bill.
  • 35% of Millennials have received a mistaken bill or had a claim denied.
  • 26% of Millennials have medical debt.

Affordability of health insurance is also a big consideration. Some 54% of Millennials say their health insurance is somewhat or very affordable.

Millennials are also using their health insurance benefits differently than prior generations:

  • 48% say they have used an urgent care center in the past. These visits can often cost more than a typical visit, but not as much as going to the emergency room.
  • 35% have used telehealth services for physical ailments.
  • 26% have sought mental health services through telehealth platforms.
  • 27% have used discount pharmacy apps.

The takeaway

The key to improving your younger generation workers’ understanding of their health benefits and how best to use them is through education. It starts with perhaps having a special session during each open enrollment focusing on what type of health plans are best suited for their generation.

If you offer high-deductible health plans, educate your staff on the importance of putting money aside in health savings accounts so they have money to pay for those unexpected expenses.

They should also be educated in how to use their health insurance to avoid larger costs, and the ramifications of using providers not in their health plan’s network. The education should also cover the costs of going to an emergency room compared to scheduling an appointment with their doctor or going to an evening clinic at their office.

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