We Millennials have come of age in a world of cyber convenience. Recent consumer-centered revolutions like one-click shopping and on-demand ride sharing are pretty standard to us. As digital natives, the world is at our fingertips. In fact, perhaps the most challenging part of being an adult for many is dealing with traditional bureaucracies that are stuck in the stone age. For us, an area of American business that is especially annoying and definitively ripe for change is healthcare.
Mind you, there are other sectors of our economy that we are forced to do business with that are just as bad. Cable companies, cell phone providers, airlines, car dealers, and your local DMV are just as likely to drive you bonkers with their ineptness. But a typical trip to a traditional brick and mortar medical practice gives everyone a run for their money. You’ve probably noticed that American healthcare is stuck in the 1950’s.
“Millennials have grown up in the world of Amazon-they don’t want to take the time to go to a doctor’s office, sit and wait,” said Bryan Rotella, a Florida-based lawyer whose practice focuses on healthcare law. “They would much prefer to have a virtual interface for things like annual checkups, and wellness. Millennials are more willing to have sensitive conversations over the computer rather than in person, especially when it involves issues like STDs/STIs.”
It’s not just the trip to the doctor’s office that’s extremely outdated, as medical billing is notoriously random and inconsistent. Insurance coverage is confusing, and big players in the business commonly deny services or medications that are expensive. In many cases, the most stressful part of a trip to the doctor is figuring out how much it’s going to cost.
You would be hard pressed to find any other marketplace where one consumes services without knowing the price. You’re probably too familiar with what happens after you visit your doctor–many of us receive unexpected exorbitant bills.
Medical providers are equally bedeviled by our unnecessarily complex system and are unable to change the way they do business because of outdated laws on the books in many parts of America. Rotella believes a nationwide initiative to cut unnecessary restrictions on healthcare would overhaul a system that is woefully unprepared for a modern world.
“The issue is antiquated state laws and medical boards,” Rotella said. “Telehealth is illegal in some states and even in states where it’s legal, the big question is whether the doctor will be paid. Many of our billing practices are contingent on face-to-face time. Baby boomers control these institutions and they’re threatened by technological changes.”
The most monumental shift in healthcare in decades, Obamacare, has not done enough to address serious problems in American healthcare. The president’s signature legislative achievement is facing serious headwinds, and many Millennials are clamoring for a nationwide public option out of frustration with our current system. Rotella said that Millennials should be careful what they wish for, since they may not understand what socialized medicine actually means for their healthcare.
“Millennials and healthcare is at a crossroads,” Rotella said. “While free healthcare sounds very tempting, Millennials aren’t going to like the system when they actually need in the future as they age. Consumer-driven healthcare is a much better option for many Millennials–it would give them the services that they’re craving.”
A Millennial-focused healthcare system would look radically different, and would harness existing technology to help improve public health. One can only hope that the system that will develop in the coming decades will address chronic diseases such as diabetes that appear to be more common than ever before.
Only when health insurance companies and medical providers start doing business more like Amazon than a typical doctor’s office will Millennials be pleased with American healthcare.
David is the Editor of Bold. He's especially passionate about millennial economic empowerment. A former local news reporter, David is originally from the Little Havana area in Miami, and later became a pioneer resident of the Disney-inspired town of Celebration, Florida. David holds a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.