Particularly among Millennials and Gen Zers, there is a growing shift to on-demand healthcare. What does this mean to HR?
Nearly 50% of 18- to 29-year-olds say they don’t have a primary care physician and are using on-demand options—such as urgent care, drug store clinics, and telemedicine– for their healthcare. They see these as preferable because they generally offer shorter wait times and access on demand. In fact, urgent care centers have become more popular in recent years; and there currently are over 7,000 such clinics across the country.
At the same time, younger employees are more likely to need more guidance on healthcare options. According to a survey by the Urgent Care Association, 15% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 have experienced confusion about where and when to seek healthcare.
The same survey found that while Baby Boomers prioritize experienced physicians, Millennials are more concerned about convenience and cost-savings. A vast majority of young people said that having a physician on-site isn’t a priority; instead, they are more focused on convenience.
HR plays a key role in educating employees about their options, such as when they should choose the urgent care center over the emergency room. If your plan offers telemedicine services, make sure they know about these and when they might be appropriate. Telemedicine is on the rise, and 95% of large employers and about a third of small- and medium-size organizations offer telemedicine benefits.
It is essential that employees know how to weigh the cost and benefit of various options. For example, an emergency room visit is costly, but it can save a life if someone is having a heart attack or stroke. Conversely, some broken bones might be addressed effectively at an orthopedic clinic and may not require a trip to the ER.
Encourage employees to make an annual well visit a top priority. For those workers who don’t have a physician or who can’t or won’t go to a doctor’s office for some reason, consider offering in-house well visits. Increasingly, employers see this as an important way to keep workers healthy. Currently, nearly a quarter of organizations with 500-4,999 employers offer this service. An additional 8% plan to add this benefit in 2019.
Millennials in particular value opportunities to save money, so wellness programs tied to premium discounts are likely to motivate them to pursue physician visits and seek preventive care. Offering rewards (such as gift cards or time off) for employees who pursue positive heath changes such as weight loss or smoking cessation are appealing to everyone. Activities such as exercise classes, diet groups, and lunchtime walks also can help employees of all ages and at all levels bond.
Whatever benefits you offer, HR needs to help employees of all ages understand their options so they can make wise healthcare choices.