Bana Jobe

The Future of Millennial Health Care: What Employers Need to Know

If you’re like many employers, millennials make up a sizeable portion of your workforce. Overall, the generation born between 1981 and 1996 represents more than a third of the labor market, outnumbering any other generation.

Given this growing majority, HR decision-makers are searching for new ways to attract and retain top millennial talent. After all, Deloitte reports that 43 percent of millennials plan to leave their job within two years of starting — and their wants and needs differ from their elders’.

Take millennial health care, for example. Millennials tend to be motivated by holistic wellness and perks that make health care more convenient. Add to that their comfort with technology, and it’s no shock that services like telemedicine beat out more traditional health benefits among millennials.

There’s no waiting out this trend, either: Right behind millennials are Gen Zers, a generation that will never know what life was like before at-home internet access. So how can you shift your health care benefits strategy to better suit the unique needs and priorities of 20- and 30-somethings, and the generations set to come after them? Consider these opportunities to get started.

1. Digitized Care

Millennials have all but thrown the conventional structure of health care out the window — and that starts with their increased interest in digitally enabled care. Who can blame them? Options like online patient portals and telemedicine connect patients to physicians with less wait and more convenience. But they offer another upside as well: greater (and more private) access to mental health care.

Between 2013 and 2016, depression jumped by 47 percent in millennials, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield data. Even still, most people with depression don’t get the help they need for it due to stigma and lack of access, something telemedicine is uniquely equipped to change.

To accommodate those needs, establish more digitized options for health care in your benefits package or, if possible, consider ways to make access to care more digital and mobile with health care apps that boost wellness or help workers better navigate their benefits.

2. Well-Rounded Wellness

Just because millennials are accessing care differently doesn’t mean they’re ignoring their personal health or rejecting preventive measures. They’re more likely to engage in healthy eating and stay physically fit, whether through yoga classes or gym memberships.

But their approach to wellness is more holistic than other generations’. Forbes reports that 71 percent of millennials draw a connection between physical and mental health. So wellness offerings that involve a range of approaches — from gym discounts and healthy snacks to financial advising and employee assistance programs — could motivate younger employees to join and stay with the company.

3. Updated Family Benefits

The Pew Research Center, along with a slew of other reports and studies, points to millennials’ tendency to delay parenthood into their 30s and 40s.
It’s not for lack of desire to be a parent, Pew notes, but it does present a major generational difference that employers keen on keeping their employees should understand: Millennials need different types of family planning benefits than Gen Xers or baby boomers did.

Consider adding health benefits options that reflect this trend and support delayed parenthood, such as coverage for fertility treatments, surrogates and maternity care for special health needs linked with having a baby at a more advanced maternal age.

Millennials won’t be the last generation to dramatically change health care, and staying ahead of the curve will mean continuing to listen to what your up-and-coming employees need. So, far from just being a strategy for today, making benefits more attractive for younger employees is an investment that could last for generations to come.

But keep in mind that preferences vary from person to person. There really isn’t such a thing as “millennial health care,” per se: Some of them may start families in their late 30s, while others will have teenagers by that time. Some may prefer telehealth options, while others might still enjoy the traditional rapport of a typical doctor’s visit. Put simply, don’t assume what your employees want just by nature of their birth year. There’s one thing that’s sure to gain the approval of every millennial — giving them a voice in the conversation about their own health care benefits.

Stay up to date on the latest health care regulations and trends for your small business: Subscribe to our monthly newsletter.