Healthcare for a new generation
Consider this. Millennials are the second largest generation among commercially insured Americans. Soon, they’ll be the largest. Yet many of them aren’t getting the care they need to stay healthy.
In early 2019, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association shared results from a Health of America survey that revealed one-third of millennials have health conditions that reduce their quality of life. Millennials, in comparison to Generation X, also have substantially higher rates of diagnoses for eight of the top 10 health conditions, including five mental health conditions.
When the report was released, Blue KC shared findings through our social channels and corporate blog. It quickly became apparent that this was a topic our members wanted to discuss further. So we held listening sessions with millennials and healthcare providers and surveyed over 100 millennials on their preferences for healthcare. The result? We got some very valuable insights, including:
- Similar to the national data, most millennials in Kansas City do not have a primary care provider. Many shared that their demanding schedules don’t allow for flexibility to leave the office for doctors’ visits.
- Kansas City millennials have more positive health attitudes compared to national data and want healthy lifestyles.
- Many millennials view their mental health as an ongoing commitment and desire routine access to behavioral healthcare.
- Millennials are more comfortable with the use of technology to receive healthcare than previous generations.
These findings shed light on how we can improve our programs and services to better meet the needs of this population. For example, we increased the availability of virtual care services (which allows for patient flexibility compared to in-person physician visits) to help improve their access to and use of primary care.
We also increased our member outreach on behavioral health benefits available to millennials. Blue KC member plans already offer behavioral healthcare at no or little cost, but we found many millennials weren’t aware of this or didn’t understand how to use their benefits. In 2019, we launched an education campaign and actively communicated with our members through open enrollment meetings and our social media channels.
The Millennial Health of America report
The response to the Millennial Health of America report was powerful. So powerful that the Association decided to host the first ever conference. This event served as a platform to discuss healthcare challenges facing the millennial population and how we, as insurers, can lead the way to better healthcare and outcomes. Blue KC President and CEO Erin Stucky took an active role in this event, participating on the panel to share the beliefs, concerns and proposed solutions voiced by Kansas City millennials on the healthcare system.
Dr. Ayo Ajaiyeoba, Blue KC’s director of utilization management, also attended the forum and shared key findings from the event including unique perspectives on how to bolster the state of millennial health in our country. He shared his perspective that mental and physical health are correlated and that declining health among millennials bears economic consequences. So, to address this, Blue KC is emphasizing increased collaboration between primary care providers and behavioral health services to help treat members holistically.
“The event was extremely valuable and provided practical insights to further improve millennial health in Kansas City,” said Dr. Ajaiyeoba. “Personally, I plan to apply these takeaways to improve our members’ health outcomes while working toward a more accessible and affordable healthcare experience.”
Blue KC’s commitment to better serving the millennial generation extends across our organization. We will continue to push for improvements in our programs and services that will improve the health of millennials – and all our members.