• Drug Coverage
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)
  • Vaccines: 2023 Year in Review
  • Eyecare
  • Urothelial Carcinoma
  • Women's Health
  • Hemophilia
  • Heart Failure
  • Vaccines
  • Neonatal Care
  • Type II Inflammation
  • Substance Use Disorder
  • Gene Therapy
  • Lung Cancer
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophy
  • HIV
  • Post-Acute Care
  • Liver Disease
  • Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
  • Safety & Recalls
  • Biologics
  • Asthma
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Type I Diabetes
  • RSV
  • COVID-19
  • Cardiovascular Diseases
  • Breast Cancer
  • Prescription Digital Therapeutics
  • Reproductive Health
  • The Improving Patient Access Podcast
  • Blood Cancer
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Respiratory Conditions
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Digital Health
  • Population Health
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Biosimilars
  • Plaque Psoriasis
  • Leukemia and Lymphoma
  • Oncology
  • Pediatrics
  • Urology
  • Obstetrics-Gynecology & Women's Health
  • Opioids
  • Solid Tumors
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Dermatology
  • Diabetes
  • Mental Health

Talking About the Generations:The health and healthcare of boomers, Gen Xers, millennials and Gen Zers. Part 4, Gen Z.

MHE PublicationMHE April 2024
Volume 34

Generation Z (1997–2012). Everything on demand, including healthcare

Fourth of four parts.

Not surprisingly, much of the excitement about the future of healthcare focuses on how millennials and members of Generation Z will engage with providers and payers. Born between 1997 and 2012, the almost 70 million members of Gen Z make up 20% of the U.S. population. They are young and not yet spending much on healthcare, with costs that average $1,354 annually, or 3.3% of their total spending, according to the World Economic Forum. That percentage is half of what Gen X spends by percentage of total spend.

Given this low percentage, why pay attention to their habits? “As they get older, they will need more healthcare services,” says Sam Glick, M.Sc., a partner and global leader of health and life sciences at management consultant firm Oliver Wyman. Gen Zers are building lifelong habits for how they will engage with the healthcare system, he says. “If we’re not contemporary and relevant in their lives now, they’ll choose to go elsewhere when they get older and need healthcare,” he says.

Gen Zers also are approaching a major loyalty and trust-building moment: having their first child. This is the most common major first encounter with the healthcare system as an adult, and it helps teach them what to expect or not expect from the system and how much to trust the system, Glick says. “If we don’t get that right with Gen Z, they’ll start making other choices,” he says.

Gen Z thinks differently about healthcare access than older generations. “Healthcare is the only thing left that they make an appointment for,” Glick says. They expect everything to be on demand, 24/7, he says, “not three months from Tuesday when the doctor has a slot.”

Sam Glick, M.Sc.

Sam Glick, M.Sc.

That’s one reason that just more than 50% of people 29 years and younger say they have no primary care physician, Glick says. “The paradigm doesn’t really resonate with Gen Z,” he notes, adding that they want a relationship based on use cases. They do their banking online or at a convenient ATM, as long as it has the functionality they need. They are fine with having a primary care relationship, as long as it comes with a suite of healthcare assets to access when they want. “They’re not convinced they need one person with a white coat who they’ve known for a long time as their primary care doctor,” Glick says.

Wanting convenience, Gen Z and millennials use the emergency room, urgent care and virtual care more frequently than other generations, according to Kurtzweil. As a result, Gen Z and millennial populations with chronic conditions are some of UnitedHealthcare’s most expensive members, he says, since many use the emergency room for regular treatment.

Although Gen Z will go to a brick-and-mortar facility if there’s a good reason, this generation is virtual first for healthcare, Glick says. Virtual care isn’t just a provider on a computer screen, though. The expanded view includes apps to monitor health and relying on texting and portals to seek information and healthcare answers, rather than in-person appointments and telephone calls, he says. Gen Z was the first generation to grow up as digital natives. Generally, they are willing to trade their data and privacy to gain insights into their health. Of Gen Z respondents to the Oliver Wyman survey, 44% said they would give their personal health information to stakeholders such as insurers, third-party apps and retail clinics, particularly if receiving a discount in exchange.

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed mental health needs in this country, and Gen Z has taken the lead in needing and seeking out help. Globally, there was an overall 25% increase in anxiety and depression during the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization, and members of Gen Z were 83% more likely to report anxiety symptoms and 86% more likely to encounter depression than other generations, according to Oliver Wyman research.

The younger set is disproportionately using healthcare dollars for mental health. Gen Z and a few of those younger accounted for 42% of the mental health dollars spent while making up only 36% of the enrolled population.

Related Videos
Related Content
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.