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Millennials' health care preferences are likely to shape any Obamacare rewrite

The Senate will get back to work next week crafting an Obamacare repeal-and-replace measure, an already difficult task made more problematic by the messages lawmakers got from their constituents over the July 4th holiday.

There are many reasons, both political and practical, that devising a health care system for all of America is so complicated. One of the key ones is because we are so diverse.

In health coverage's case, the diversity issue is generational.

New health care offerings preferred by generations
Source: Oliver Wyman and Fortune Knowledge Group analysis

"For the past few years, healthcare companies and policymakers have been striving to craft consumer health strategies, but they have done so with a one-size-fits-all approach," says Sam Glick, partner in the Health & Life Sciences practice of global management consulting firm Oliver Wyman and co-author of a recent survey of generational health care attitudes and wants.

That tactic could be changing.

Younger consumers rule: Millennials are the leading demographic in the fight right to repeal, replace or at least somehow redo the Affordable Care Act.

Provisions in the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA) or the Senate's pending Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) that are most likely to survive are those that are favorable to younger healthcare consumers.

These so-called young invincibles (although, as Canadian rock band Rush points out, "you're only immortal for a limited time") are young and healthy, requirements critical for insurers to maintain a viable risk pool.

So understanding millennials' healthcare preferences is vital. Stat.

What millennials want: A new survey from Oliver Wyman and Fortune Knowledge Group shows that like everything in today's consumer-oriented world, millennials see health care as a shoppable service.

To that end, younger consumers are the age group most open to new healthcare offers. Nearly half of the prized 18-to-34 demographic has a high degree of interest in new products and services, according to the survey.

And, notes the report that's officially titled "Complexity and Opportunity: A Survey of US Health Consumers' Worries and Wants," millennials are more willing to interact through new channels and technologies than older generations.

Beyond digital health care: However, these kids today keep everyone on their toes.

The survey also found that millennials want more than just digital bells and whistles. Of the top six services that millennials say they are interested in, three have to do with in-person advice and social support, not technology.

Millennials also are three times more likely than Baby Boomers to want consultation with patient advocates.

Top health care concerns of baby boomers andmillennials

Other groups, other findings: In addition to looking at the needs and wants of millennials, the survey, conducted online last fall, also examines the preferences and concerns of Boomers, caregivers and people with chronic disease.

Findings among these areas include:

  • When it comes to paying for add-on services or products, respondents of all ages are most interested in convenience-related services, such as same-day appointments and home visits.
  • Baby Boomers are the generation most satisfied with their current healthcare experience. However, they also are the most pessimistic about the future. Just 21 percent think their care will get better over the next five years.
  • While Boomers are less open to new products and services than millennials, solutions that address this age group's specific concerns, such as fear of losing mobility, could break through their hesitations.
  • Family caregivers — these are the folks who say they are responsible for the care of someone else — are far more likely to be interested in extra healthcare services, such as access to medical professionals via a 24-hour help line or home computer, than those who are not caregivers.

"Understanding how different generations — and millennials, in particular — want to interact with the healthcare system will allow us to develop more relevant products and solutions. And that will lead to an improved healthcare experience for all," says Glick.

Contact Congress: Have you let your Representative and Senators know what you want from the Affordable Care Act or any replacement? There's still time.

One.com offers a how-to of ways to contact your members of Congress. There's an option for every age group!

You also might find these items of interest:

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Lance @ My Strategic Dollar

Interesting! As a millennial, I do agree that getting relatively quick service at a physician's office is important. Additionally the service provided isn't, but I feel that there's no accountability on the doctor's part. Healthcare is still a for-profit industry so the main objective is costs v. revenue. If we can change the industry to be more service driven, aka lower costs, and focus on total cost of care and raise accountability, I think we would be golden!

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