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A generational split on health benefits is being led by Millennials
There are major differences in how Millennial workers and their older Generation X and Baby Boomer colleagues view and use health benefits, new research shows.
"It's important for employers to understand differences in generational cohorts to better adapt to a changing workforce," said Paul Fronstin, co-author of
an analysis published in April by the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).
According to EBRI's report, based on a survey of over 2,000 adults with health insurance, Millennials:
Satisfaction with Health Plan Choices(Percentage Extremely or Very Satisfied)
Source: EBRI/Greenwald & Associates, Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey(click on chart to view in separate window)
Receptive to Health Plan Options
Though Millennial-inspired benefit advice often focuses on ancillary options such as student loan repayment, maternal and paternal leave, and commuter benefits, a competitive health plan remains the top benefit to attract Millennial workers, said Alex Tolbert, CEO of Bernard Health, a health benefits consultancy based in Nashville, Tenn.
One in three Millennials has turned down a job in part because of poor insurance offerings, according to findings in
a survey by Anthem, a provider of health and disability plans.
"The important thing for employers who have a majority of younger, Millennial workers to know is that these employees will be more receptive to different types of health coverage than their more experienced counterparts," Tolbert said.
Given the trend toward higher deductibles, "employers have the opportunity to shape Millennial attitudes on health insurance, and with effective communication, offering HSA-eligible plans alongside traditional co-pay plans can significantly reduce costs," he noted. Healthy Millennials also "may prefer to fund their HSA than buy [higher premium] comprehensive coverage they don't expect to use."
[SHRM members-only toolkit:
Managing Organizational Communication]
"Money can be a huge cause of stress," leading to a range of health issues, said Mike Wozny, president of Anthem Life Insurance Co. “That’s why it is important to recognize financial planning as a part of a comprehensive, integrated health care plan.”
"Many Millennials definitely have traits and experiences that could serve them well when it comes to planning their finances," which includes managing health care costs, said Dennis Notchick, a certified financial planner with Safeguard Investment Advisory Group in San Diego. For example, "Many Millennials are good about creating budgets" and tracking their monthly expenses, having come of age during the Great Recession and the tepid economy that followed.
The fact they grew up in a time of fast-developing technology and are quick to adapt to the changes also gives them an advantage, Notchick said, including using apps on their phones—"a domain they're comfortable with"—to compare health care providers' quality ratings and comparative costs for nonemergency care.
Five communication techniques to reach and motivate Millennials about their health benefits were suggested by Jessica Gonchar, a Seattle-based communications specialist at Milliman, a benefits consulting and actuary firm. She is also a Millennial worker:
"Millennials want and need communication that is personalized, convenient, mobile-friendly so we can engage with it when and where we want, compelling so we know why it's important, and formatted in an interesting way," Gonchar said.
Related SHRM Article:
Employees Still Can't Find Out How Much Health Providers Charge,
SHRM Online Benefits, April 2017
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