Millennials – Changing the Health Care Landscape

Studies show that millennials are not interested in having a primary care doctor. They are looking to the Internet, urgent care and employers to help with their health care needs. Millennials are the 83 million Americans born from 1981 to 1996 and who are now 23 to 38.

The U.S. Census Bureau population projections indicate that in 2019 millennials will surpass Baby Boomers as the largest living adult generation. For decades, patients have had trusted relationships with primary care physicians. These internists, family physicians or general practitioners coordinated the patients’ care, ordered tests, offered treatments and made referrals.

That is changing. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, of the 26 percent of respondents who said they don’t have a primary care physician, almost half were 18-to-29-year olds. Observers say some of the disinterest can be attributed to age. As people age, it’s more likely they’ll need a doctor who understands their medical history. In addition, experts believe millennials eat healthier than their parents and may rebound faster from illnesses.

As an employer, it’s important you understand why the need for a primary care doctor is declining and how it affects you. Insisting on Convenience In the past, when people wanted treatment after hours, their only option was an expensive trip to an emergency room. Millennials now have the option of reasonably priced visits to retail clinics in drugstores, big-box retailers or free-standing urgent care centers.

These are open evenings and weekend hours and cost as little as $40 per visit. Telehealth also offers convenience. Millennials can call or video conference with a physician any time of day — sometimes for free. These physicians often can prescribe and send prescriptions directly to the pharmacy. This care-on-demand option is a good fit with millennials’ schedules.

They don’t have to miss work or change their schedules for an appointment. By comparison, a 2017 survey by Merritt Hawkins, a physician search firm, found that the average wait time for new-patient appointments with a primary care doctor is 24 days — partially explaining why retail clinics are growing in popularity and number. Rand Corporation researchers say there are more than 2,700 retail clinics in the United States.

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