Millennials Are More Likely to Turn Down Healthcare for Cost Reasons

A new report shows the generation is savvy about healthcare prices... but at what cost?
Hannah Smothers
Brooklyn, US
Young woman talks with a doctor
Westend61 via Getty

Perhaps because millennials are permanently braced to be absolutely screwed by the healthcare system, a new report shows the generation is relatively more aware of what medical care will cost before they get it. According to a survey released this week by Wolters Kluwer, an information services company, about 55 percent of millennials know medical costs beforehand, while only about 41 percent of Baby Boomers said the same. Knowing the cost of something is good, but the downside to that prep is that millennials are also nearly twice as likely to forgo medical treatment, for cost reasons, compared to Baby Boomers. (Maybe this is another reason why this cohort can expect to die quicker and be sicker than previous generations…)


This makes sense, considering millennials make less money but somehow pay substantially more for healthcare, compared to the previous two generations (Gen X and baby boomers). Just like a smart person may read Kelly Blue Book before buying a car, millennials do more preemptive research before making the equally large purchase of “being healthy :).”

Broadening things out across generational lines, the survey found that while 87 percent of people know how to physically prepare for their medical procedures, only about 55 percent generally know what to expect from their bill. Perhaps, and I’m just spitballing here, a better version of this system would include telling a person what they can expect to pay for something as part of the routine prep?

The report is only the latest addition to my favorite literary canon, which I like to call: Oh No, I’m Gonna Die Broke!!! As millennials age, the real-time and prospective forecasts for what their interactions with this country’s very bad healthcare system will look like continue to roll, and none of them are “good,” in so many words. This new survey does offer one glimmer of hope, which is that apparently most people—regardless of when they were born—really, really want more transparency in healthcare pricing. This seems like a fair and reasonable request, to me.

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Follow Hannah Smothers on Twitter.