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Many young people may still need health insurance

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Heather Robinson
Many young people may still need health insurance
Many young people may still need health insurance

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has helped bring health insurance coverage at a relatively low cost to millions of people nationwide. However, one group that may still lag behind national trends in this regard is young people, and that can be true for a number of reasons. As such, it is vital that millennials and health insurers find a way to work together to help get them covered, avoid penalties, and otherwise improve their situations with respect to this pressing issue going forward.

Those in the health insurance industry should particularly see millennials - who in the past have been somewhat reluctant to buy coverage - as a big opportunity just because that generation is now the largest of any adult group in the U.S., having recently surpassed baby boomers to take the top spot. One of the big reasons they haven't bought coverage is that federal law now allows them to stay on their parents' plans until they're 26 years old. However, even those who don't have that luxury aren't buying en masse these days simply because of a phenomenon that has led them to be known in the industry as "Young Invincibles." What that means is young people are generally in good health and therefore see no need to buy health insurance because they don't go to the doctor very often.

Millennials may not feel they need comprehensive health insurance, but the cost is worth researching.Millennials may not feel they need comprehensive health insurance, but the cost is worth researching.

A new path forward
However, it doesn't take an expert to highlight why that kind of view of their overall health situations is a bit shortsighted. Accidents happen, illnesses crop up out of nowhere, and those without coverage end up paying far more than they can likely afford (particularly if they're young, with lower salaries and less money in savings) for the resulting care.

So the question for many health insurance companies is how to connect with millennials, and new data suggests it's by meeting them on their level, according to a recent survey from the FAIR Health. For instance, nearly 3 in every 5 young people between the ages of 18 and 34 say they're active comparison shoppers when it comes to electronics, and more than 1 in 3 said the same about buying a car. However, slightly fewer than 1 in 5 responded similarly when asked about health care costs.

Meeting their needs
Indeed, for any kind of item, close to 3 of every 4 millennials say they've done some online comparison shopping in the past year, dramatically surpassing every older generation, the report said. And what's interesting is that the 19 percent of them who say they've researched prices for medical treatments also represent the greatest number of any generation surveyed.

But given that even the most active health cost researchers are still only doing it less than 20 percent of the time, health insurers may want to look for new ways to educate consumers of all ages - but particularly millennials - on the benefits of shopping around. Not only can this reduce their out-of-pocket expenses and help them avoid medical debt, but it can also be a boon to insurers for the same reasons.



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