Keeping Millennials on Your Self-Insured Health Plan: Why It Matters and How to Do It

If some news outlets are to be believed, Millennials only care about avocado toast and Netflix. But while this generation isn’t well respected by some older Americans, Millennials take health insurance seriously. (There’s some disagreement about exactly who is considered a millennial, but generally anyone born between 1981 and 1996 falls into this group.) Considering that they have lived through a period when health insurance has been a hotly contested issue, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Millennials are invested in their coverage.

That could be good news for self-insured employers. Simply taking small steps to make your plan appealing to Millennials could be enough to get these employees on board. Young employees tend to have much lower medical costs than older employees, so they’re an important part of your health care risk pool. Having Millennials in your plan can balance the higher costs associated with older plan members.

Research shows just how critically important health insurance is to younger workers. One survey done by Anthem found that 35 percent of Millennials have turned down a job offer because they were dissatisfied with the offered insurance. (It’s especially important to appeal to employees younger than 26, because the Affordable Care Act gives them the option of remaining on their parents’ coverage.) If they’re not satisfied with your insurance coverage, Millennials may opt out of the plan altogether in favor of staying on their parents’ plans, or they may leave their jobs altogether. That exodus can be crippling to self-insured employers.

So what’s an employer to do? Making your insurance coverage attractive to Millennials is the place to start. It may be surprising to some, but many Millennials – 46 percent, in a 2014 survey by Bankrate – prefer a plan with lower deductibles and higher monthly premiums. Young employees are less likely to have chronic health problems than older employees, so they may be more focused on finding insurance that provides a solid safety net in the event of accidents and other catastrophic events. Considering that younger workers are often living paycheck to paycheck, it makes sense that they would be wary of huge, unexpected hospital bills.

Millennial employees also tend to want insurance plans that afford them access to good mental health benefits, including therapy and brand-name prescription coverage. Members of this young and tech-savvy group may also be looking for plans that cover telehealth services and have highly reputable pediatric providers in network.

Clearly communicating the details of your plan with younger employees is critically important, too. Some of the Millennials in your plan may be making their own insurance decisions for the first time and have limited experience comparing plans, understanding healthcare savings accounts and identifying the benefits they really need.

Young employees generally have limited financial resources, but they do have options other than an employer’s self-insured plan – and they know it. Some employers make the mistake of prioritizing the needs of their oldest and sickest plan members when making decisions around medical benefits, but savvy self-insured employers know that meeting the needs of their youngest and healthiest employees is equally important.

Self-insured employers have to consider a huge range of factors when making decisions about health benefits. Contact us with any questions!