Millennials and healthcare: 25 things to know

There is a lot of talk about the impact the aging baby boomer population is going to have on the healthcare industry, but many trends are being driven by another sect of the population: millennials.

Millennials are defined as individuals ages 18 to 24 or 18 to 34, depending on the source. Having lived with the Internet and near instant access to a wealth of information, many millennials approach healthcare — either as employees or consumers — with different expectations and skill sets than previous generations. And although baby boomers are often considered the "largest generation" in number, millennials actually outnumber the boomers by 7.7 million.

Highlighted below are 25 things to know about this generation and its effect on healthcare costs and trends.

[Editor's note: Although the definitions differ somewhat, typically those around ages 34 to 49 are considered Generation Xers and those ages 51 to 69 are considered baby boomers.]

Millennials, medical care and money

1. The cost of treating 18 to 24 year olds averages $1,834 per person annually, compared to $2,739 for people ages 25 to 44 and $5,511 for those ages 45-64, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.1

2. Compared to the general population, millennials ages 18 to 34 are most likely to ask for a discount, ask for a cheaper treatment option, request a price check or appeal an insurance decision, according to a report from PwC's Health Research Institute.

3. PwC's Health Research Institute also revealed consumers — including millennials, chronically ill patients and the affluent — stressed that they wanted physicians, pharmacists and other providers to sit down with them and discuss costs.

4. Most millennials (93 percent) do not schedule preventive physician visits, according to a survey conducted by medical scheduling company ZocDoc.

5. ZocDoc also found about half (51 percent) of the millennials surveyed visit a physician less than once per year.

6. In responses to a Salesforce survey, nearly half of the millennial respondents said they have no personal relationship with their primary care physicians.

7. Approximately 40 percent of the Salesforce survey respondents ages 18 to 34 said they thought their primary care physicians would not recognize them if they passed them on the street.

8. Approximately one third (34 percent) of millennials prefer retail clinics and 25 percent prefer acute care clinics, compared to baby boomers (17 percent and 14 percent, respectively) and seniors (15 percent and 11 percent, respectively), according to a consumer survey from PNC Healthcare.

9. PNC Healthcare survey respondents ages 21 to 32 said they go to their primary care physician 61 percent of the time, compared to baby boomers (80 percent) and seniors (85 percent).

10. The PNC Healthcare survey also revealed all age groups think healthcare is too expensive (79 percent) and costs are unpredictable (77 percent). However, 54 percent of millennials and 53 percent of Gen-Xers have put off care due to costs, whereas just 18 percent of seniors and 37 percent of baby boomers have put off care due to high costs.

Millennials, mHealth and technology

11. Those between ages 18 and 34 are the most likely to be interested in telehealth (74 percent), compared to 70 percent of individuals between 35 and 44, 64 percent of individuals between 45 and 64 and 41 percent of individuals age 65 and above, according to a Harris Poll survey.

12. A joint survey from Salesforce and Harris Poll found 71 percent of millennial patients would like to have their providers use mobile apps to book appointments, share health data and manage preventive care. This trend will only grow as millennials get older and as the general population increasingly takes advantage of the power of technology.

13. The Salesforce-Harris Poll also showed 60 percent of millennials support the use of telehealth options to eliminate in-person visits.

14. Millennials ages 18 to 34 are the generation most associated with price checking and comparison shopping online, yet only 19 percent of respondents in this age group reported price checking medical and dental care, according to a recent survey from FAIR Health

15. The FAIR Health survey also revealed that millennials are still the most likely age group to price check and comparison shop online for medical and dental care (19 percent), followed by 45 to 54 year olds (16 percent) and 55 to 64 year olds (14 percent).

16. Half of millennials and Gen-Xers use online reviews to select care providers compared to 40 percent of baby boomers and 28 percent of seniors, according to a consumer survey from PNC Healthcare.

17. Additionally, 50 percent of millennials and 52 percent of Gen-Xers compare insurance options online, compared to 25 percent of seniors, who prefer print materials (48 percent) and in-person consultations (38 percent) to select insurance plans, according to the PNC Healthcare survey.

Millennials as employees

18. More than one-third American workers today, or roughly 53.5 million people, are millennials (adults ages 18 to 34 in 2015).2

19. This year marks the first time millennials surpassed Generation Xers to become the largest share of the American workforce, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.2

20. The share of young adults who are employed has increased from 69 percent in 2010 to 72 percent today. As of the first third of 2015, 85 percent of college-educated 25- to 34-year-olds were employed.3

21. Millennials are more diverse than the generations that preceded them, with 44.2 percent being part of a minority race or ethnic group other than non-Hispanic, single-race white, according to U.S. Census data release in June.

22. More millennials have a college degree than any other generation of young adults and they are on track to becoming the most educated generation to date.4

23. According to the Harvard Business Review, millennials in particular want more coaching and feedback than previous generations.

24. According to Karen Strauss, chief of strategy, marketing and communications at Toledo, Ohio-based ProMedica, employees want to work for an organization that stands for something and means something. Building reputational capital around core values is especially key in attracting and retaining millennials, who place significant value in working for mission-based organizations.

25. Among the top 25 specific companies for which millennials want most to work, eight are health-related. They are:

  • St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (Memphis, Tenn.) — ranked No. 3 overall
  • A "local hospital" — No. 6
  • Health Care Service Corporation (Chicago) — No. 9
  • Children's Healthcare of Atlanta — No. 10
  • Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minn.) — No. 14
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield (Chantilly, Va.) — No. 22
  • UnitedHealth Group (Minneapolis) — No. 23
  • Atlantic Health Service — No. 25



1 The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. (2012). Health Care Costs: A Primer, Key information on health care costs and their impact. Menlo Park, Calif.

2 Fry, R. (May 11, 2015). Millennials surpass Gen Xers as the largest generation in U.S. labor force. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

3 Fry, R. (July 29, 2015). More Millennials Living With Family Despite Improved Job Market. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

4 Fry, R. (March 19, 2015). How Millennials today compare with their grandparents 50 years ago. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

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