Skip to main content Skip to footer

Millennials And Their Children

What's Driving Healthcare Utilization?

Humanizing healthcare means valuing and supporting the individual rather than the disease. 

They’re tech natives, born between 1981 and 1996 — they want life balance, and a voice and seat at the table. They’re optimistic, social media savvy, and make up one-third of the workforce. They’re also the most likely to use the ER, urgent care, and virtual healthcare, driving utilization rates as they raise children with a “go to the doctor” mindset. 

In our sixth annual white paper, Health Action Council and UnitedHealth Group explored factors and claims data representing 126,000 individuals. Millennials and their children: significant health findings compared generations’ healthcare usage and drivers, from medical risks and behavioral health to parenting and financial impacts. 

The purpose: to understand the greatest areas of disease burden and to seek insights on what life circumstances are propelling Millennials and their children to utilize healthcare compared to other generations. 

The data we gathered is enlightening and drew attention from multiple major media outlets, along with Dr. Roy Bachinski at University Hospitals. He said in a WEWS-TV interview, “I was quite surprised to see that this is the trend,” though when he examined the data, it makes sense. “This generation has been exposed to a number of events, certainly over the last three years with COVID, and definitely other events earlier on with regard to the Great Recession as well as the generation during the tech slide.”

More stress leads to unhealthy lifestyle choices. Dr. Bachinski said, “These results from the study are certainly eye-opening.” How much more are Millennials using healthcare plans compared to other generations? 

  • Though younger, Millennials have 106% more hospital admissions for diabetes, and 55% more ER and urgent care visits for hypertension despite taking 6 fewer prescriptions annually.

  • While Millennials have a low incidence of obesity compared to others at 2%, they have higher facility utilization with 31% more ER and urgent care visits.

  • Millennials are most likely to have substance use disorder claims.

  • This age group and their children account for 41% of neurodevelopmental claims like attention deficit disorder and autism. 

  • ​​​​​The cost of pregnancy for Millennials is 14% higher than Gen Z and 1% higher than Gen X with cost factors including fertility treatment, high-risk pregnancy, and C-section delivery.

Connecting the dots between healthcare utilization, social determinants of health (SDOH) indicators, economic factors, and family influences paints an understanding of why. 

As children, Millennials were the first full generation of double-income households with working parents away from the home. Their time was more structured with programming. And policies requiring doctors’ notes to return to work or for children to return to school or daycare after sickness escalated utilization. It became habit—go to the doctor, return to everyday life. 

Eighty percent of the Millennials we identified for SDoH outreach have financial concerns. School loan debt, layoffs during the Great Recession and economic uncertainty are drivers. Meanwhile, they tend to choose plan designs with the smallest impact to their paychecks. This ultimately results in higher out-of-pocket costs when healthcare services are rendered and feeds the financial stress cycle. 

We know that stress triggers unhealthy lifestyle behaviors and medical conditions, including diabetes, hypertension and substance abuse. With this high utilization, what’s on the horizon and how can employers help change the story? 

The bottom line is, a well-managed plan will improve health literacy and decrease utilization, reducing the cost of healthcare for everyone. Most of all, employees will be healthier, happier, more productive, and likely to pass these positive lifestyle outcomes to their children. 

So, what can we do now to predict and prepare for future employer spend? Here is some guidance from the whitepaper—a sneak peek, as we encourage you to download and read the report and engage your workforce.

  • Refocus. Continue to manage your high-cost claimants while developing, implementing, and engaging employees in activities that will keep them healthy. 

  • Think prevention. Implement and promote disease prevention and lifestyle modification programs to delay and manage the onset of chronic conditions. 

  • Expand engagement. Involve the entire family in healthy practices as children mirror their parents’ health. Look for cultural alignment in engaging the entire family in healthy practices.

  • Find the right care. Educate on choosing the right care at the right place at the right time. Our website provides tools like a symptom checker, healthcare options, and prescription discounts. 

  • Download our white paper and share your insight with us. How are you working to bend the trends? Let’s keep the conversation going. 

About Health Action Council 
Health Action Council is a not-for-profit 501(c)(6) organization representing mid-and large-size employers that enhance human and economic health through thought leadership, innovative services, and collaboration. It provides value to its members by facilitating projects that improve the quality and moderate the cost of healthcare purchased by its members for their employees, dependents, and retirees. Health Action Council also collaborates with key stakeholders – health plans, physicians, hospitals, and the pharmaceutical industry – to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare in the community.

Patty Starr bio image

About the author

Patty Starr

Patty Starr is president and CEO of Health Action Council and is responsible for driving the strategic direction of the organization--build stronger, healthier communities where business can thrive. 

Ready to take control of your employee healthcare & benefits costs?

We use cookies and similar technologies on our Website to ensure you the best browsing experience. Read about how we use cookies and how you can control them in our Privacy Statement. If you continue to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies. Go to Privacy