I had a difficult conversation with my dad recently. Okay, it wasn’t so bad; over brunch at a quaint and delicious Cuban restaurant, we discussed the looming worst birthday of my life.
In one short month, I will be turning 26 and officially kicked off of my parents’ healthcare. I now have to join millions of my cohorts and experience life that doesn’t include the fantastic, comprehensive health insurance my parents enjoy. Cue the panic.
This shouldn’t be such a worrisome event for me; I’ve long known its imminence. I talk about Millennials losing insurance/being 26 all the time because talking to Millennials is my job, and I get healthcare. I come from a healthcare background. From my parents’ healthcare careers to my own experience as an HR rep at Regions Hospital where I explained benefits to other people and calmed their insurance concerns, I should have felt better prepared. But I didn’t, and I still don’t. With my generational lens on, I can think of two #Millennial reasons. And no, one of them isn’t that I’m terrified of cutting cords from my Boomer parents.
#1 – I can’t crowd-source health insurance on the inter-webs.
As a Millennial, I am accustomed to crowd-sourcing online to make decisions. But there isn’t a Yelp or Amazon for health insurance. “Top HealthCare Plans” lists seem interesting, but can I trust them? There isn’t a filter option for me to enter: 25, single, female, traveler, cautious, mostly healthy, craft IPA and Porter enthusiast, non-smoker… what is best for me? There aren’t peer reviews to rate the quality of service, network of providers, etc. Instead, I’ll group text my friends and colleagues and receive responses like, “Well, I have some-name-of-a-medical-plan and it seems okay.” My deciding factor in the end? If the insurance covers my highly-rated-on-yelp clinic.
#2 – I don’t feel like health insurance companies “get me.”
At BridgeWorks, one of our sweet spots is helping companies understand how they can look more attractive to Millennials. That doesn’t mean helping companies be like Google, but it does involve consulting on how to engage a younger demographic through online branding. With that mindset, I look at insurance websites and have to admit—the quest for an insurance provider that is innovative, simple, and authentic is difficult. I understand that companies have taken great strides in their approaches to marketing healthcare in the past couple years (and of course, they’ve had to because of the Affordable Care Act). But I have this fear that if modes of shopping for insurance don’t appeal to me now, how can I expect they’ll cater to my service needs later on?
The above points aside, I remain optimistic. Health insurance disruptors are attractive to Millennials. If done well, the Apple watch and companies like Oscar may usher in an era of more streamlined health care practices. We’re not there quite yet, but as a Millennial, I expect that sometime in the (hopefully) near future, technological solutions will help simplify and streamline healthcare processes for all generations. Until that time comes, I’ll make the most of what we’ve got.