The Surprising Relationship Millennials Have with Healthcare

August 22, 2019
Tracey Walker
Tracey Walker

A new study has revealing findings about how millennials maintain their health and wellness.

Millennials are not only shying away from regular physicals and wellness checks, they’re also reluctant to go see a doctor when a medical problem arises, according to new study.

In June 2019, Harmony Healthcare IT researchers surveyed 2,103 millennials between the ages of 23 to 38. Fifty-seven percent of respondents were female and 43% were male. Of those respondents, 82% were employed or self-employed. Thirty-five percent of respondents identified as having a pre-existing medical condition.

The study found that one in four has gone more than five years without an annual physical examination, and roughly half admit to putting off treatment for a health issue altogether. The majority (73%) say they search for medical advice online rather than going to the doctor's office. 

“Millennials are projected to overtake Baby Boomers as the largest U.S. population group this year,” Collin Czarnecki, content strategist at Harmony Healthcare IT. “From this study, healthcare executives can take away millennials’ preferences when it comes to seeking out medical advice, finding doctors, and making appointments.” 

The study revealed millennials trust online resources to diagnose their symptoms and often supplement physicians’ advice with their own online research. Two-thirds of millennials would not see a doctor who wasn’t online, and nearly half would prefer having a digital doctor’s appointment rather than traveling to an office.

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“Millennials’ propensity for the internet and desire to acquire information immediately is unlikely to change and could change how they approach medicine as they age,” Czarnecki says. “It’s unclear the severity of the maladies for which they are seeking the internet’s wisdom, but it is important to note that millennials desire online resources.”

While the study found that one-third of millennials haven’t had a physical in the past year, and one-quarter have waited more than five years for a wellness check, most millennial respondents say they do have a primary care physician.

“The most common way millennials select one is through their insurance company’s online portal of in-network physicians, and the second most common method of selecting a physician is through family reference,” Czarnecki says.

Wellness checks

Millennials are foregoing annual wellness checks because they “feel healthy,” are “too busy,” and find doctor’s appointments to be “not convenient.” This reluctance to stay on top of their physical health with any regularity could factor into their health down the line as they age, according to Czarnecki.

Millennials are also opting for less-expensive healthcare options. The survey revealed that 65% of millennials are not saving for medical emergencies, and of those that are, they save less than $100 per month. Millennials also tend to opt for high-deductible plans to keep their monthly insurance costs low. Their choice in insurance plan could mold the frequency with which they seek medical care, and the fact that 45% say they put off getting treatment for health issues.