More than half of Millennials, 57 percent, say they have little to no understanding of how out of pocket health costs such as co-pays, deductibles and co-insurance work, according to a new report from consumer credit firm TransUnion. By contrast, about 40 percent of baby boomers admit to limited knowledge about their benefits.
Who Are Millennials?
Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are the demographic age group that followed Generation X (early to mid-1960’s to the early 1980’s) which followed the Baby Boomers (early to mid-1940’s to the early 1960’s). For the curious the 3 preceding generations were the Silent Generation, the GI Generation and the Lost Generation. There are no precise dates for when each cohort starts or ends, but for Millennials demographers and researchers typically use the early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years.
Millennials and Health Care
According to a recent CNBC article, Jonathan Wiik, principal at TransUnion’s health-care unit who consults with hospitals on bill collection said, “Millennials came into the health-care market at a really volatile time, when cost-shifting was really happening and deductibles have quadrupled.” He further added, “They don’t pay their bills on time because they don’t understand them. That’s pretty typical of that generation — they’re not going to pay until somebody explains it to them”.
One late night trip to the emergency room can result in multiple bills that arrive months apart. It is confusing and it is almost impossible to decipher exactly what the insurance covered. As the first generation to come under the Obamacare, Millennials are not surprisingly finding the new rules of consumer-driven health care tough to navigate.
As 2018 health care plans are coming out, many will have to weigh the pros and cons of a high-deductible to try to keep their monthly premium lower vs. a high-monthly premium insurance plan to try to keep their deductible lower.
Nearly 3 in 4 millennials, 74 percent, failed to pay their medical expenses in full when first billed in 2016; that’s up from 64 percent in 2014. So hospitals are starting to change the way they have traditionally billed because of the challenge Millennials are presenting them when it comes to collecting payment for bills. A vast majority cited limited savings for not paying, but nearly half of those surveyed say they’d be more apt to pay if they could get a cost estimate up front. So hospitals are starting to change the way they have traditionally billed, by trying to prepare patients for what their out of pocket costs will be ahead of treatment, and working out flexible payment plans to allow patients to pay over time. Unfortunately, hospitals have a long way to go and it is high time for real simplification of how deductibles and co-pays are explained, and just the process of billing itself.
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