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Millennials will force large-scale change on the US healthcare industry. With easy access to information and more choices than previous generations, these digital natives are often frustrated by what they perceive as an opaque and outdated “analog” system of care, according to a new eMarketer report, “Healthcare Marketing to Millennials: Reaching Digital Natives in the Age of the Affordable Care Act.”
The US government has made no secret that the long-term viability of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will depend upon getting millennials to enroll and stay signed up. So far, these efforts have been modestly successful. Q2 2014 data from Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, collected after open enrollment ended, showed that the percentage of uninsured millennials had dropped several percentage points since late 2013. Some 18.7% of 18- to 25-year-olds were uninsured (down from 23.5% in Q4 2013), as were 23.9% of 26- to 34-year-olds (down from 28.2% in Q4 2013).
A February 2014 study by Pew Research Center found that though most in this age group disapproved of the ACA, the same percentage believed that providing health coverage for everyone should be the government’s responsibility.
This seemingly contradictory view appears to be characteristic of millennial attitudes on this topic. While 81% of US millennial respondents in an April 2014 survey by Prophet said they’d trust health insurers to “do the right thing,” 55% believed insurance was going to be too expensive, and 52% were unsure or confused about government subsidies.
The Prophet study, which explored consumer attitudes and experiences with the ACA’s first open enrollment period, characterized millennials as “young, stubborn, but interested.” It found that while they generally engaged less with the healthcare system until they were ill, they were twice as likely as their older counterparts to be planning an insurance purchase via an exchange. Though perceived high cost and confusion about subsidies were sticking points, Prophet also found this group had less of a negative attitude about healthcare exchanges than its elders. The report concluded that “Independent Millennials”—those not covered under their parents’ plan—were a high-potential demographic target during the next open enrollment window.
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