Millennials & Healthcare: How to Navigate the Confusing Healthcare System
How to make it easier for young, working adults to navigate the confusing health care system
The Healthcare industry is constantly evolving, and with the introduction of Obamacare, it has only become more complicated. As a recent college graduate, I have noticed a trend among my working friends; most of them have no idea how to use the healthcare benefits they receive through work. With more and more young people, aka “millennials,” pouring into the professional workforce, it is important that employers offer the educational tools and trainings necessary for all employees to be good consumers of their healthcare benefits. Accessible tools and resources, training courses tailored for young employees, and a consumer driven healthcare approach are just three ways that employers can increase the understanding of healthcare in their millennial employees.
Training for Millennial Employees
Since Obamacare has raised the age limit for a child to stay on their parent’s health plan, a recent trend for millennials and benefits is to decline coverage through their own employer until they reach the age of 26. Since they were not enrolling in benefits when they were first hired, many employees probably skipped the original benefits orientation offered during new-hire onboarding, which can cause confusion, especially if they are joining the plan mid-year. In order to combat this confusion, employers with a large millennial population can offer short training sessions geared towards employees turning 26 and coming onboard the benefits plan mid-year. They can be as infrequent as once or twice a year, just make sure to advertise ahead of time so any employees turning 26 during the year can make sure to attend. The course itself should offer a “vocabulary overview” where concepts like “PPO” “HDHP” and “HSA” are explained and can closely follow the flow of an open enrollment meeting, giving an overview of the specific benefits the company offers. You can also offer a “Safe Space Q&A” where employees can ask any benefits related question they would like, no matter how silly it may seem.
Available Tools & Resources
Another you can do to make healthcare easier to understand for millennial employees is to make sure that access to informational tools and resources are just a click away. We are living in a virtual world, and most millennials prefer to do things digitally, so it is important that you make all information pertaining to benefits available through online access. If your company has an intranet site, make sure to store all your benefits information from year to year in a folder that can be accessed at any time! If possible, record your open enrollment meetings so employees who missed them, or just need a refresher, can access them after the fact. This will also cut down the number of benefits related questions your HR department must field as well. And as mentioned above, make sure to keep a list of “Healthcare Vocabulary Words” easily accessible as well! With many millennials, this is their first time really having to deal with healthcare, and many benefits are shortened with acronyms, so keeping a resource where they can learn the function of each piece of their plans not only helps them in learning how to use them, but can also help them in making informed, consumer driven choices as well.
Consumer Driven Healthcare Approach
Finally, do not forget to use all of these learning tools as an opportunity to teach your millennial employees how to be smart consumers of healthcare. Obamacare has dramatically increased the popularity of High Deductible Health Plans, which are cheaper for employers to offer, and give young, healthy employees more affordable healthcare benefits. If this type of plan is something your company does offer, make sure to show your employees how to find the cheapest healthcare services using the tools provided by your insurance carrier. Also, it’s important to highlight the benefits of Health Savings Accounts, especially since they roll over from year to year and can be used as an investment tool! With student loans and higher cost of living, millennials are looking for ways to maximize their budgets and put as much away for the future as possible.
The healthcare industry is growing more confusing by the minute, and young working adults are struggling to understand how to effectively use their employee benefits. By offering online access to tools and information regarding healthcare benefits, training and informational sessions geared toward the millennial workforce, and teaching young employees how to be smart consumers of their benefits, companies can increase their employees understanding of healthcare and mitigate the burden that many consider navigating health insurance to be.