Millennials comprise the largest share of the American workforce and primarily receive healthcare benefits through their employers, but many think of health insurance as financial backup for emergency situations rather than to secure primary care services.

According to a 2017 survey, half of millennials report visiting a doctor less than once per year, and they are less likely than Baby Boomers or Gen Xers to have a primary care provider due to preferences for quick access and affordable pricing. For those reasons, walk-in clinics and urgent care facilities have seen an influx of patients. Although millennials are driving change in how healthcare is consumed and paid for, it is important for all patients to know of the importance of continuity of primary care services.

Nearly all healthcare benefits cover basic preventative services and screenings but they’re often unused by younger, healthier millennial patients. This is especially true for men who aren’t compelled by the same well-woman care, family planning and health promotion services women seek through their gynecologist or OB/GYN. Although some experts say millennials are becoming more proactive about their healthcare, overall, they’re more likely to wait until they’re sick or injured before seeking medical care.

Certified physician assistants are primary care providers who can help employees assess the care they need, drive utilization of health and wellness tools, and save patients money. They provide crucial preventative services, anticipatory guidance, and important screenings and testing that can detect early signs of illness, depression or chronic diseases. Early identification and prompt treatment is less expensive than treating severe, advanced or complicated illnesses which compel patients to visit costly ERs or urgent care facilities. Routine check-ups can also lower expenses for budget-conscientious millennials who prefer value-based care that keeps more money in their pockets.

Still, millennials are less willing to wait days or weeks to see a medical provider and they aren’t necessarily seeking a long-term, in-depth relationship. According to One Medical, it takes an average of 29 days to see a primary care doctor in the U.S. That is why many practices employ certified PAs.

PAs expand healthcare coverage

Across the nation, PAs are filling healthcare gaps and working autonomously on healthcare teams. On average, a primary care PA sees 85 patients each week. Thus, PAs enable offices to extend hours for pre- and post-work appointments, and greatly extend care access with same day appointments. Approximately, 27% of the nation’s 123,000 certified PAs practice in primary care.

In addition, the PA profession relates well with millennials, as it is a young profession with a median age of 38. They understand how, when and where their peers want their healthcare and can form long-term patient-provider relationships by leveraging their understanding of millennials’ lifestyles and behaviors. Millennials are often technology savvy as are PAs, who can connect patients to specialized providers using telehealth methods, eliminating the need for in-person appointments. PAs are also familiar with online services and mobile apps that allow millennials to view test results, manage health records and schedule appointments.

Yet patients aren’t going to compromise quality for affordability. Like doctors, PAs must maintain ongoing certification maintenance requirements and pass rigorous recertification assessments every 10 years. Our education and certification give us the experience to provide a broad range of services from performing physicals and diagnosing illness, to creating and managing care plans and prescribing medication. We also help patients understand their conditions and the alternatives and options that are available to them.

Moreover, the profession’s expansion means more providers will be available to care for patients. Since 2010, the number of certified PAs has grown almost 54%. According to Bureau of Labor statistics, the profession will increase 37% by 2026, and “PA” currently ranks third on the U.S. News and World Report rankings of the 100 Best Jobs in 2018.

Ultimately, the complexities of healthcare benefits can be daunting for any employee but for the millennial worker, it can be a deterrent altogether to seek regular medical care. It’s important for all patients, especially millennials, to know that primary care services make a big difference in their long-term health by providing continuity of care and an established provider-patient relationship. Certified PAs can be the provider of choice for a generation that wants to spend less time at a clinic and more time living their busy lives.

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