I’m a millennial, and my generation currently comprises over a third of the U.S. workforce. At 53 million, we’re a population that deserves some degree of attention because both our numbers and spheres of influence are growing, and quickly, might I add. My peers and I are often found tethered to our smartphones. We do everything online because we worship convenience, we’re price-sensitive, and we appreciate variety. So is it that surprising to hear that millennials, who were the lucky bunch to graduate college amid The Great Recession and have now entered an insurance market where higher annual deductibles are common, happen to be the most frequent healthcare comparison shoppers?
In general, we’re less brand-loyal than previous generations, and the rising prevalence of consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) in the American workforce only accentuates this trait. We want the most bang for our buck. We’re less concerned with brand commitment than we are with value. Among different hospitals and doctors, there’s a wide variation in costs for healthcare services, so it’s logical to shop around if you have the right tools. According to a study by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, most adults (aged 19 – 64) who accessed a large carrier’s payment estimator tool were younger (aged 19 – 34), healthier, and had higher annual deductible spending than those who didn’t price shop. Also, the information users searched was for services that people could prepare for in advance, like preventive screenings or outpatient procedures.
I’ve certainly done this. I ditched my last PCP and scoured the Aetna website and my Zest Health app looking for a new one with stellar patient satisfaction ratings, a cost-conscious approach to care, and topnotch training. And I found one—one who allows me to schedule appointments through an app! I’ve also used these same tools to check drug coverage and cost because you pay attention to where every dollar goes when your wallet’s on the line up to a few thousand dollars.
With CDHPs on the rise and my fellow millennials flooding the labor force, it would be wise for employers to pick up on this trend. Some are already making an effort to introduce price transparency tools, and it makes sense to raise consumer awareness about the absolute and relative prices of healthcare services, especially if employees are seeking it out. Also, if reducing “impulse purchases” in healthcare is a goal of yours, equipping your employees with digital shopping implements is definitely an avenue to consider.