Growing Millennial Generation Reshapes Health Care Consumption

Just like the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers before them, Millennials are slowly reshaping basic assumptions about the workforce and employer-provided health benefits. 

New research from Aon Hewitt presents some impressive figures about the U.S. Millennial generation, expected to represent 70 million workers by 2030.

Each year Aon Hewitt teams up with the National Business Group on Health and The Futures Company to poll more than 2,300 U.S. consumers, leading to the “Consumer Health Mindset Study,” now in its fifth annual edition.

According to Aon Hewitt, the substantial research effort clearly shows Millennials view integrated health and wellness programs as an important attraction and retention tool for employers. In addition to an employer focus on physical and mental/emotional wellness, Millennials further ranked “social wellbeing” in the top two areas for employer support and resource allocation—more than any other generation.

Millennials are also looking for the traditional health care and retirement planning services their parents’ and grandparents’ generation demanded. In fact, more than half of Millennials (52%) said they believe health and wellness programs offered by their employer make them feel better about their company, compared to just 39% of all other generations.

Countering a narrative often applied to Millennials and the world of workplace health care post-Affordable Care Act, a sizable group (43%) of Millennials said their employer health and wellness programs are “one of the reasons they stay at their job,” compared to less than one-third (32%) of all other generations. Offering a bit of advice to HR, 56% of Millennials said integrated health and wellness programs “would make their employer more attractive to future employees,” and 57% said it would help increase their overall satisfaction with their employer. This compares with 43% for all other generations, Aon Hewitt notes.  

NEXT: Millennials want direct guidance from employers 

The Aon Hewitt report goes on to explain that Millennials are “growing increasingly tolerant of direct guidance and consequences for unhealthy behaviors.” 

A pretty solid majority (56%) of Millennials even said employers should “direct participants to certain facilities/providers for the most appropriate care/cost.” Older generations are clearly more skeptical of this, with just 40% agreeing with that statement.

Even more striking, nearly one-third (32%) of Millennials are supportive of employers imposing consequences for “less-than-healthy conditions,” compared to just 21% of Gen Xers and 14% of Baby Boomers. On a related poll question, 32% of Millennials said they are supportive of requiring higher employee costs for health insurance if employees do not use health awareness tools, compared to just 24% of Gen Xers and 16% of Baby Boomers.

Probably not surprising, Aon Hewitt finds Millennials are more likely to rely on social media networks for health care advice. Millennials show a “great reliance on their social network of family and friends to influence their health actions (41%), compared to 33% of Gen Xers and 23% of Baby Boomers,” the report concludes.

The paper can be downloaded here after a quick registration