Millennials interact with the health care system much differently than our predecessors. The average young adult uses the health care system very sparingly, in part because we are young and generally healthy, but also because we tend to skip preventative care. This is not because we don’t care about our well-being; it’s because health care functions based on a set of archaic and bureaucratic rules.
90 percent of us do not schedule preventative appointments. We are inclined to use Dr. Google to diagnose illnesses, and we are open to trying do-it-yourself treatments at home. But the biggest factor keeping us away from the doctor, according to a ZocDoc survey, is time.
Women are more likely to cancel an appointment than men, regardless of whether or not the appointment is a checkup or a response to an illness.
Young adults use the internet not only to diagnose what they are experiencing, but also to find and vet their doctors. We are likely to judge a doctor based on their practice’s web site and online reviews.
Our reluctance to see a doctor can be explained by the free market. Are you satisfied with the service you receive, at the price that you pay?
Most Americans would say no. America’s newest adults see the biggest discrepancy between what the free market offers us (on demand, customized service) and what the health care market offers us (long wait times, expensive, bureaucracy). A 26-year-old hospitality worker told USA Today what would happen if his restaurant tried to work the way that health care does: “Oh God, it would fall apart… It would be like, ‘You want pasta? Too bad, I don’t care what food you want, all I care about is making you not hungry.’ “
The idea of waiting weeks or months for an appointment is totally anathema to the on-demand generation. And to get that fast, convenient appointment, we are willing to sacrifice the personal doctor-patient relationships that past generations have enjoyed.
74 percent of us would rather see a doctor via webcam than in person. 71 percent of us would rather book appointments online. (Who even makes phone calls anymore?!) Each of us are not loyal to our one main doctor, and we are generally fine with seeing a nurse or nurse practitioner instead of a doctor (it helps that those appointments are typically easier to come by), according to USA Today.
We value efficiency and transparency at work and in our social lives, and we expect the same from health care. Congress, meanwhile, is writing an Obamacare replacement that stands to make insurance companies more powerful while weakening what little voice consumers have in this industry. Our elected representatives would do well to encourage health solutions for the 21st century – when “make an appointment with the family doctor” is becoming an outdated phrase.