Millennials feel uninformed on health insurance options

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Nearly three in 10 millennials, people born between 1980 and 1997, say they have never had employer-based health insurance, according to a recent nationwide study from the Transamerica Center for Health Studies.

The nonprofit’s executive director, Hector De La Torre, says he was shocked when he initially saw this statistic. But, upon looking deeper, he found that most millennials in this category were on the younger end – just out of high school, in college or working entry-level jobs that don’t offer insurance. As the age of respondents increased, their chances of having had employer-based insurance increased as well.

Yet 11% of millennials don’t have insurance at all – only a slight improvement from 17% last October. And almost half of those young adults don’t plan to get insurance in 2017.

“The important thing about millennials is that they are needed [for the healthcare marketplace to function] because, in general, they use healthcare less,” De La Torre says.

The key to getting more millennials engaged in the healthcare system is simple – employ them. Over 60% of the uninsured were unemployed and out of the respondents who are uninsured, 4 in 10 view employment as their path to coverage. Insured millennials, meanwhile, tend to get their coverage from an employer.

But simply providing access to coverage may not be enough. Millennials also need information on what this coverage means.

More than a third of respondents said they are not at all or not very informed about the health insurance options available to them, including some who currently are insured. And almost 2 out of 3 are currently relying on a mother or stepmother for healthcare guidance – even those who now have children of their own.

“In terms of getting information in front of their employees, every little bit helps,” De La Torre says. Employers can also alert workers to different plans under their coverage. “Few millennials have comparison shopped. That is a place where the employer can help by making it clear if they do offer different coverage, and making clear what the cost and value is for each.”

For millennials, this is crucial because nearly half have skipped or stopped care to minimize healthcare costs. If employers can alert them to money-saving options, workers can get the care they need with less money anxiety.

The report also found gender and racial disparities between those with insurance. Women, blacks and Latinos were less likely to be insured than others. De La Torre attributes this to fewer educational and employment opportunities for those demographics, cutting them out of higher job opportunities that are more likely to offer insurance.

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