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PR pulse: How Millennials are influencing health reform

by | Jun 12, 2017 | Public Relations

Millennials have taken the reins as today’s power consumers, and even the government is taking notice of this generation’s influence.

As we know, Senate Republicans have been trying to hash out their version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), and while they are expected to soften some aspects of the House bill, sections that are favorable to younger healthcare consumers are likely to remain untouched. That’s because attracting young and healthy enrollees—the so-called “young invincibles”—is vital for a sustainable risk pool. And understanding their unique healthcare preferences is especially vital at this moment.

A new survey, Complexity and Opportunity: A Survey of US Health Consumers’ Worries and Wants, from consulting firm Oliver Wyman and FORTUNE Knowledge Group reveals what these young adults think about their current healthcare experience, and sheds light on how the healthcare system could better meet their needs.

“For the past few years, healthcare companies and policymakers have been striving to craft consumer health strategies, but they have done so with a one-size-fits-all approach,” said Sam Glick, partner in the Health & Life Sciences practice of Oliver Wyman and co-author of the report, in a news release. “Understanding how different generations—and millennials, in particular—want to interact with the healthcare system will allow us to develop more relevant products and solutions. And that will lead to an improved healthcare experience for all.”

Consumers’ biggest healthcare concerns:

How Millennials are influencing health reform

Key findings:

  • The survey found that millennials are the age group most open to new healthcare offers—nearly half have a high degree of interest in new products and services.
  • Like everything in this Amazon-powered world, they see healthcare as a shoppable service.
  • Millennials are more willing to interact through new channels and technologies than older generations.
  • But it’s not only digital bells and whistles they want. Of the top six services that millennials say they are interested in, three have to do with in-person advice and social support—not technology.
  • Millennials are three times more likely than boomers to want consultation with patient advocates.
  • Interest in new healthcare offers is highest among millennials with chronic diseases (60 percent have a high degree of interest). This suggests that as millennials age and more of them develop lifestyle diseases, the demand for new services could expand dramatically.

“As millennials age and have increasing contact with the healthcare system, they will form connections with the organizations that provide the right offerings and support,” said Helen Leis, partner in the Health & Life Sciences practice of Oliver Wyman and co-author of the report, in the release. “There is now real opportunity to tailor offerings and create with millennials the sort of emotional connection that is at the heart of loyalty.”

Interest in new offers by generation:

How Millennials are influencing health reform

Additional survey highlights:

The survey also reveals the preferences and concerns of baby boomers, caregivers, and people with chronic disease. Key findings include:

  • When it comes to paying for add-on services or products, respondents of all ages are most interested in convenience-related services, such as same-day appointments and home visits.
  • Baby boomers are the generation most satisfied with their current healthcare experience. However, they also are the most pessimistic about the future. Just 21 percent think their care will get better over the next five years.
  • While they are less open to new products and services than millennials, solutions that address boomers’ specific concerns (e.g., fear of losing mobility) could break through their hesitations.
  • Family caregivers—people who say they are responsible for the care of someone else—are far more likely to be interested in extra healthcare services, such as access to medical professionals via a 24-hour help line or home computer, than those who are not caregivers.

Read the complete study here.

The online questionnaire was fielded in the U.S. in October and November 2016, gathering 2,016 responses. The people polled all have insurance coverage, ranging from government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid to those who are self-insured or insured through an employer or union. There is a cross-section of ages, including 25 percent who are Millennials, 26 percent Gen-X, 40 percent Baby Boomers and 10 percent born in 1945 or earlier. There are almost equal numbers of men and women. A third of the respondents live in households with annual income of $75,000 and above. Twenty-three percent have household income of $50,000 to $75,000. The types of household run the gamut from people living alone to families with children.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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