Reg Jones Expert's View

Reg Jones

An interesting feature of OPM’s Federal Employees Benefits Survey was its examination of the health plan priorities of Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. (Note: There are too few of the Greatest Generation still in the workplace to be statistically significant.)

When asked about cost as a factor in selecting a plan, 57 percent of Millennials cited that it was the top factor, as compared to 53 percent of Generation X and 46 percent of Baby Boomers. The same spread occurred when asked about out-of-pocket costs, with 86 percent of Millennials selecting that as a top factor, as compared to 77 percent of Generation X and 69 percent of Baby Boomers.

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Interestingly, Baby Boomer respondents were more concerned about prescription drug coverage and doctor availability. When asked about prescription drug coverage 39 percent of Baby Boomers selected that as a top factor, while that was only cited by 36 percent of Generation Xers, and 26 percent of Millennials. Similarly, doctor availability was selected by 39 percent of Baby Boomers, while only 34 percent of Generation X and 30 percent of Millennials chose that as a top priority.

OPM was also interested in learning about the likelihood of these groups changing their health benefit plan. About 55 percent of Millennials said yes, while 49 percent of Generation X and 42 percent of Baby Boomers expected to do that. When making up their minds about changing plans, 69 percent of the Millennials used OPM’s Plan Comparison Tool and 51 percent used OPM’s website.

Not surprisingly, “Baby Boomers were more likely to report using phone appointments (27%) than Millennials (15%) or Generation X (22%), whereas Millennials were more likely to use mobile phone health applications (17%) compared to Boomers (10%) and Gen X (12%).”

OPM was also interested in finding out how the different generational groups used telehealth services. Here’s what they found:

Telephone appointment with a provider: 22%

Online communications with a provider: 21%

Mobile health applications: 12%

Live video appointment with a provider: 2%

Note: Since the survey was conducted in 2019, it’s likely that they would be much different if the questions were asked today. The Covid-19 pandemic has meant far more online communications and live video appointments. It’s a good thing those services were in place when they were needed.

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