Stephanie Dwilson

Health Care Coverage Needs: Tips for Reaching Young, Old Employees

It’s amazing how health care coverage needs vary between generations. Today, small businesses are made up of people from different age groups, ranging from baby boomers to millennials. When you’re selecting your company’s health care plan, make sure you’re covering each generation’s needs adequately by educating yourself about what’s important to each group.

Millennials Prefer Digitally Focused, Cost-Conscious Services

Millennials don’t value face-to-face conversations with doctors as much as older generations, but instead, prefer online interactions and teleservices, WebMD Health Services reported. Patient portals, where individuals can make appointments and ask questions online without ever having to pick up the phone, are best. Much of this boils down to preferring efficiency in all services, including health care. Because of this, they’ll shop online instead of a grocery store or choose a retail clinic over a personal doctor.

Millennials’ desire for online interaction makes them the perfect candidate for telehealth services. With telehealth, patients can talk to their doctor online instead of coming in for a visit. Telehealth sometimes includes online physical therapy using digital monitoring equipment, home monitoring of health issues such as heart health, online conferences with a specialist across the country and more. One telehealth service that many businesses like is LiveHealth Online. This service lets you visit with a doctor online 24/7 for the treatment of many common conditions. The service also offers psychologist appointments in most states. For millennials, getting these important needs met without waiting in line or commuting is a big advantage.

However, millennials would prefer to skip talking to a doctor altogether if possible. This is why you’ll find them willing to invest in preventative services and health classes. But they’re also cost-conscious because they’re younger and faced a recession when they started their careers. When you have millennials on your staff, you’ll want to offer high-deductible plans with low-cost monthly premiums. Since prevention is also important to them, look at integrating wellness programs, such as exercise classes, gym memberships and vaccinations.

Generation X Prefers Options, Supplemental Insurance

Meanwhile Generation X is sometimes the “stepchild generation” that gets lost in the shuffle between the bigger baby boomer generation and growing millennials. They’re in their mid-to-late 30s and 40s, the smallest generation and the first to experience less wealth than their parents. This makes them more interested in finding security nets, such as supplemental insurance. In fact, Gen Xers tend to purchase the most supplemental health products of any generation, the Private Exchange Research Council reported.

If you want to appeal to Gen X employees, offer a variety of health insurance choices that they can choose from, ranging from high-deductible, low-cost plans to more comprehensive plans with higher premiums. Gen Xers like options, so provide opportunities for them to invest in “extras,” such as disability, supplemental health — like critical illness or accident coverage — and even pet insurance.

At least some of your plans should include online patient portals and teleservice options. Like their millennial counterparts, some Gen Xers — especially the younger crowd — prefer digital interactions.

Baby Boomers Will Spend More, but They’re Less Healthy

Baby boomers, meanwhile, prefer developing one-on-one relationships with their doctors and meeting them in person, USA Today reported. They’ll be unhappy if they lose a plan and their doctor ends up out of their network. So look for plans that have staying power and wider networks.

Baby boomers are also willing to spend more on insurance. In fact, the Employee Benefit Research Institute explained that nearly 7 out of 10 responding workers ranked health care as their most important benefit — even more important than retirement or pensions. For baby boomers, a low-deductible health plan with higher premiums is worth the investment. They’re also more likely to invest in certain kinds of supplemental insurance, like long-term care, dental, hearing and vision. Due to their age, they’re more likely to suffer from chronic conditions such as arthritis, high cholesterol and hypertension. So offering a wellness program that focuses on managing longer-lasting conditions would be beneficial to this group.

Every generation has unique preferences when it comes to health care coverage needs. If you know the needs of the people on your staff, you can find packages that appeal to all ages. And in this way, you can help ensure that your employees take full advantage of their plans and stay healthier longer.

Stephanie Dwilson has extensive experience providing expertise on topics including health, law and marketing. She’s a science journalist published by Fox News, a marketing expert and a non-practicing attorney with experience in personal injury law. She’s also a small business expert featured by Businessweek and has worked as a PR lead for one of the largest churches in America.