What Millennials Think About Health Insurance Exchanges

In a recent two-part survey organized by GenRe Life Corporation, researchers asked individuals about their thoughts and perspectives regarding health insurance exchanges. Consumers interviewed were required to have at least some knowledge of a health insurance exchange, although a majority of interviewees had a health insurance plan through their employer.

The purpose of the study was to answer the following questions:

  1. Do individuals feel exchanges are here to stay, and are they willing to purchase health and non-health insurance through an exchange?
  2. Do individuals prefer a certain type of insurance exchange, including who they prefer manage the exchange and provide educational support?
  3. How will individuals educate themselves about their options when shopping
on an exchange, and what tools could help make the process less overwhelming?
  4. In the event employers send employees to an exchange, how might this impact the employer/employee relationship?

The online survey included over 2,000 participants, ages 21–65 years old. While the demographics skewed to Caucasian, college educated individuals, with the majority making $50,000-$125,000 a year, attitudes toward the health insurance exchanges were strikingly different among the various age groups. Millennials in particular stood out as forerunners of what might become the way people shop for health insurance in the future.

More than any other age group, 60% of millennials ages 21-30 think favorably of the health insurance exchanges. They also believe it is easier to compare plans on an exchange than any other age segment. The group was tied in second place with 31-40 year olds on perceiving that the exchange has more plan and cost options.

It’s no surprise technology tools to make the process of purchasing healthcare plans on the exchange were a priority for millennials. In the 21-30 year old age category, they believe the primary way of making a health exchange less overwhelming is through filtering functions, product design flow charts, online chat, virtual assistant features and hover tools, compared to their 51-64 year old counterparts who primarily want a toll-free number, on-location assistance and online classes.

When researching health insurance plans on an exchange, over 70% of all participants said they would give consideration to the insurance products available, not just their current benefits. However, millennials were the least likely to evaluate their options compared to all other age categories. They would instead find someone to tell them what product to buy or purchase a health insurance plan that was familiar to them. In fact, 50% of 21-30 year olds would ask a friend or coworker what healthcare plan they purchased to help make their own decision.

The optimists of the study’s pool, 62% of millennials believe their employers will not stop offering health insurance benefits, while only 44% of 51-60 year olds believe their employer will continue offering employer health insurance in the future. Perhaps that is due to the fact that 76% of those age 21-30 believe that their employers are obligated to offer a health insurance plan as a company benefit. In fact, 56% of this same age group reported they would look for another job if their employer dropped health insurance coverage from the employee benefit plan.

In the end, the age 21-30 segment is driven by price. Of those surveyed, most were open to finding a better deal on health insurance, even if it meant moving to the exchange if the opportunity arose.

The one question all age groups answered overwhelming the same? More than 80% of those surveyed believe health insurance exchanges are here to stay in one form or another. Time will tell.


This is part one of a two part series.

Colleen McGuire

About Colleen McGuire

Colleen McGuire is an independent consultant who has spent most of her career writing about healthcare and the health insurance industry. For fun she blogs, travels and takes a lot of pictures along the way.