Before Obamacare passed in 2010, nearly one-third of people aged 18 to 24 were uninsured.[1] That rate was nearly twice the national average, and it made millennials far and away the most uninsured generation in the country. About a year after Obamacare took effect, young adult coverage had jumped by over 10 percentage points to 74.8 percent.[2] But millennials remain largely detached from the healthcare industry.

Only 61 percent of millennials see a primary care physician, compared with 80 percent of Baby Boomers.[3] At least part of the cause here is financial – just over half of millennials say they’ve delayed or completely avoided seeking care due to cost. This comes as no surprise when “the median income for 18-34-year-olds has fallen by thousands of dollars compared with previous generations at the same age.”[4]

But it’s also the way America’s health care infrastructure is currently set up. According to a 2015 PNC health survey, 71 percent of millennials would be interested in using a mobile app to manage their health care, like to review health records and schedule appointments.[5] Health IT is a growing component of health care, with electronic health records (EHR), online health communities, and e-prescribing becoming more common. However, it’s not prevalent enough yet to support this kind of demand. And in keeping with the shift away from primary care physicians, millennials are shifting towards more à la carte options. Just over a third of millennials prefer retail clinics (clinics that operate out of pharmacies and grocery stores, usually headed by a nurse practitioner), and a quarter prefer acute care clinics. Nearly half of millennial respondents in a FAIR Health survey said they would be most likely to go to an emergency room or urgent care clinic for a non-emergency health issue.[6]

“Doctors point to the type of medical care used by Millennials as one of the driving forces of rising costs. The idea of rotating between retail clinics and emergency rooms is one that they don’t agree with.”[7]

Increasing insurance coverage for millennials should remain a priority – they’re still the least insured generation in the country. And while millennials of color saw their uninsured rates drop the most, those rates are still disproportionately high compared with their white counterparts. Only 12.6 percent of white millennials lack coverage, compared with 20.7 percent of black and 28.3 percent of Latino millennials.[8]

However, coverage is not the only health issue policymakers and healthcare providers need to address. Health care infrastructure must adapt to become more accessible to younger generations, especially as they continue to grow as a share of health consumers.



[1] Audelo, Sarah and Frothingham, Sunny. (September 18 2015). “3.6 Million Millennials Gained Health Insurance in 2014.” Center for American Progress. Available at https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/healthcare/news/2015/09/18/121577/3-6-million-millennials-gained-health-insurance-in-2014/

[2] See note 1

[3] Wotus, Matt. (September 29 2015). ”Millennials More Likely Than Other Generations to Avoid Seeing a Doctor.”  http://genprogress.org/voices/2015/09/29/39979/millennials-more-likely-than-other-generations-to-avoid-seeing-a-doctor/

[4] See note 1

[5] PNC Health Care. (March 23 2015.) “Five Ways Tech-Savvy Millennials Alter Health Care Landscape.” Available at http://pnc.mediaroom.com/2015-03-23-Five-Ways-Tech-Savvy-Millennials-Alter-Health-Care-Landscape

[6] PR Newswire. (May 6 2015). “FAIR Health Survey: Viewpoints about ER Use for Non-Emergency Care Vary Significantly by Race, Age, Education and Income.” Available at http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/fair-health-survey-viewpoints-about-er-use-for-non-emergency-care-vary-significantly-by-race-age-education-and-income-300078595.html

[7] See note 3

[8] See note 1