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The Generational Divide: Millennials and Health Insurance

Millennial workers (defined as born 1977-2000) view and use health benefits very differently than their baby boomer (1946-1965) and gen X (1966-1976) colleagues.

According to the 2015 Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey, millennials are generally very well-informed about their options. They also report higher levels of satisfaction with health care choices and the financial aspects of their plans. Millennials are more actively engaged in picking out a health care plan and making cost-conscious decisions. They are also more likely to engage in healthy behaviors (except smoking).

“We find profound difference in how Millennials deal with health issues and health coverage than their older colleagues at work,” said Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s Health Education and Research program, and co-author of the report. “It’s no surprise that employers are interested in the role of millennials in the labor force. It’s important for employers to understand differences in generational cohorts to better adapt to a changing workforce.”[1]

Here are a few of the survey findings:

  • Out of the three generations, millennials exercised more and are more apt to have a normal weight. However, they are more likely to smoke.
  • 47% of millennials think that using a medical savings account (HRA/HSA/FSA) to save money for future medical expenses is important.
  • Being engaged and making informed health care choices is important to millennials. When millennials choose a health insurance plan, they will visit the insurance company website to learn about their plan (64%), discuss plan options with consultant/broker (35%), attend benefits meeting/s (43%) and talk to friends, colleagues and family about health care choices (52%).
  • Millennials are more likely to make cost-conscious decisions such as researching a doctor/hospital (49%), finding cost information (77%), developing a budget to manage health care expenses (35%), talking to a doctor about treatment options and cost (42%) and asking the doctor to recommend a less costly prescription drug (42%).
  • According to the survey, most millennials are happy with the current health plan choices offered by their employer. They reported that:
    • The offered health plans were affordable (54%)
    • They could easily select a plan (62%)
    • Information was available to help them understand the plans (59%)

Knowing the different values, expectations and experiences each generation has for making future health care plan decisions may help school, city and county employers adapt to the ever changing workforce.

Download the survey results to see what each generation values when it comes to health insurance.


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Erin Woulfe
Erin Woulfe
Erin Woulfe likes to write about things that matter. Keeping her finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the public sector world, she blogs about the latest legislative news and employee benefit trends that affect our school, city and county clients. She’s been with NIS since 2002. “I love connecting to our clients and providing them with the tools they need in order to administrate their plan,” says Erin. “Whether that be materials to educate their employees on certain benefits, how to effectively communicate change within an organization or just providing tips and how-to’s to help them make their job easier.”

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