Younger Workers Least Comfortable Navigating U.S. Healthcare System

Working families and workers under 30 are the least comfortable navigating medical benefits and healthcare system, according to a survey by Accolade. Only 56% of young workers are comfortable navigating the healthcare system compared to 76% of retirees. They also report the least positive experience with their healthcare and benefits (38%) and the most hassles in navigating their care, including understanding cost, coordinating care, choosing and understanding benefits, and finding a doctor they can relate to. Additionally, this group cites financial issues and a lack of knowledge about healthcare as the top reasons for making poor health decisions.

Working families (average age 39) gave the second-lowest positive rating of their benefits and healthcare experience (42%). Working families spend much more time dealing with healthcare issues than do younger or older workers, perhaps reflecting the added health needs of children and parents or other relatives. Working families cite cost of services and medications as the top reason (60%) driving poor healthcare decisions and also cite competing responsibilities (42%) to a greater degree than other groups (averaging 30% each).

Older workers (average age 56) are the second-most pleased with their healthcare experience, though 45% gave it a positive rating. Older workers also miss less work, are less distracted by health issues, and spend less time dealing with healthcare issues than working families. Retirees (average age 69) express the most comfort in their healthcare decision-making abilities (76%) and the most positive healthcare experience (59%). They perceive the fewest hassles in navigating their care and benefits.

Robert Cavanaugh, president of Field Operations for Accolade said, “Companies are spending millions of dollars each year launching programs…to help their employees use healthcare effectively, but this survey shows how individuals are getting lost in the process. Health benefits executives should be asking if they’re really getting the maximum return on these tools and technologies, if they’re actually creating additional problems and complexity for employees, and whether programs are working for everyone, from young workers to working families to older workers at different stages of their life and health journeys.” Accolade recommends that employers do the following:

• Consider multi-generational needs and priorities in their health benefit strategy. Ask the following questions, “Are all eligible employees using health programs and tools?” “What should I offer to employees to align with healthcare needs and preferences at different life stages?”
• Tailor messaging to highlight different benefits and use different imagery that resonates with each group.
• Personalize support. People need other trusted resources who know employees’ benefits and their life circumstances to serve as guides.

Last Updated 05/25/2022

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