How COVID-19 Pandemic has Impacted Millennial Health

Study addresses how millennials are approaching their health and what significant medical appointments they should be making right now during the pandemic.

Healthcare has been at the top of mind for Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, but how seriously have millennials been about their personal health throughout the last year?

Health data management firm, Harmony Healthcare IT, recently surveyed millennials on the topic of healthcare, primary care physicians and annual physical examinations during the pandemic.

The survey resulted in a majority of millennials receiving care or having options of receiving care, but most efforts were little.

According to self-reporting respondents, 79% of millennials say they have a primary care physician, while a similar survey conducted by Harmony in 2019 revealed 76% of millennials had a primary care physician.

In this recent survey, a majority of millennials (65%) also said they made sure to receive a check-up or annual physical during the pandemic and 28% say they became established with their primary care physician during the pandemic. Compared to the survey in 2019, the percent of millennials who received a physical within the last year remained unchanged at 65%.

Millennials Ignoring Health Issues

Many millennials are still putting off going to the doctor and ignoring health issues altogether, the report said. According to respondents, 43% have been putting off addressing a health issue and 34% have not received a check-up since the pandemic. These numbers have remained relatively unchanged since our 2019 survey, which showed that 45% of millennials had been ignoring a health issue and one-third had not received a check-up within the last year.

The most common reasons why millennials are putting off check-ups include:

  • Safety concerns due to the pandemic (50%)
  • They feel healthy (41%)
  • Visits to the doctor are too expensive (34%) or too inconvenient (25%)

Millennials Turn to Google for Medical Advice

Considering millennials are the generation who grew up with technology at their fingertips, it may not be a surprise they turn to Google for medical advice. Overall, 69% of respondents said they search Google for health or medical advice instead of going to the doctor and 24% trust Google to accurately diagnose their symptoms.

Along with online health publications and news articles, more than a quarter of millennials (26%) say they find their medical advice on YouTube and 18% turn to the popular social platform Reddit.

Not only are millennials searching online for medical answers, but a majority (83%) are also conducting their own research – even after hearing a doctor’s advice.

Millennial Medical Debt

COVID-19 has brought on financial hardship for many Americans and millennials have also been financially stressed, especially when it comes to medical debt. Nearly a quarter (24%) of millennial respondents said they’ve taken on medical debt since the pandemic. Overall, 28% say they have $1,000 or more in medical debt.

How Many Millennials Will Get COVID-19 Vaccine?

Attitudes toward the COVID-19 vaccine have changed since late last year, but 25% of millennials say they will not get vaccinated for COVID-19 while 55% say they will get vaccinated. Millennial men were slightly more likely to say they will get a COVID-19 vaccination (60%) compared to 51% of millennial women.

Medical Appointments That Should be a Priority

While attending to all of your medical needs is crucial, there are a number of medical appointments folks of all ages should stop putting off.

According to a passage published in March by NPR, there are five medical appointments people should take advantage of quickly:

  • Cancer screenings
  • Checkups for new red-flag symptoms
  • Follow-ups for chronic disease
  • Mental health management
  • Sexual health maintenance

"People need to do what they feel safe doing, but they can be interacting with and getting help from their doctor in safe ways right now," Dr. Alex Krist, a family physician and chairperson of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, told NPR. "To think about just putting your health on hold — that's a mistake."