Chapter 4: Health Care is Stealing Millennials’ Future, But They Will Take it Back

“Most health plans have merely lipsticked pigs or paved cowpaths rather than rethought health plans for the modern era.” – Dave Chase

The graphic below tells a terrible story, but more shocking is how conservative the assumptions behind the numbers are. The narrative of Becky that follows is drawn from a great book by David Goldhill where he outlines the reality for a millennial employee of his.

Before getting into that, does anyone believe that status quo health plans are a fit for millennials? What millennials (and actually most people) want is transparency, convenience and affordability. In other words, the polar opposite of carrier-controlled health plans. Sadly, most health plans have merely lipsticked pigs or paved cowpaths rather than rethought health plans for the modern era.

Millennials are the largest generation in history and the oldest millennials are now 40 years old yet few, if any, health plans are optimized for this generation. Wise employers are quietly gaining an edge over those beholden to approaches that have driven nothing but worsening value and mediocre health outcomes despite extraordinary premium spikes. Let’s see what that means for a millennial.

Millennials healthcare spendLet’s give this millennial a name, Becky, and make a few assumptions about her life. We’ll say she gets married at 30 and has two children. She works until she’s 65 and dies at 80. We will also assume her income grows every year by 4%, so that at retirement she is earning $180,000 a year. To simplify the analysis, we’ll have Becky’s husband leave her to join an ashram when he turns 65, so she’s only responsible for her own Medicare premiums. Let us also give Becky a stroke of good fortune and say that she and her dependents stay healthy, with no major health crisis requiring large out-of-pocket expenditures.

Now, allow me to make a truly crazy assumption just for the sake of argument. Let’s assume that health care costs grow at only 2% a year – half of Becky’s income growth. This hasn’t been true for 45 years, but we can always hope. Given all those factors, how much do you think Becky will contribute to the health care system for herself and her dependents over her lifetime? I’ll give you a hint: Becky will earn $3.85 million over her career. The answer is $1.9 million! If she has a working spouse, the two will contribute $2.5 million into this system over their lifetimes. 

How has this happened? Remember that Becky is almost certainly unaware of how many ways she is paying into the health care system, even though she’ll probably put more into that system than she spends on anything else over her entire life.

Please share the millennials chapter (PDF) with your colleagues if there is any hesitation about making positive changes to your health plan due to “disruption.” Reading Goldhill’s excerpt sounds pretty doggone disruptive to me!

Key chapter take-aways

  • On the current path, millennials would become indentured servants to the health care system, spending half to two-thirds of lifetime earnings on health care. Millennials will ensure that never happens – in the process driving tremendous change in health benefits unlike we have ever seen.
  • We all ultimately desire what millennials desire, whether it’s smartphones, better food, social media, or better health care.
  • As health care change will happen in phases, millennials are natural early adopters of greatly improved health care.

Health Rosetta Employer Program

By reading this book, we hope you have had a mindset shift. First, recognizing that the status quo is far more devastating to the American Dream than you may have realized. Second, that solutions are ready for any organization wanting to make a difference in their workforces/community. This is why we launched an employer program to level the playing field and give professionals a career development opportunity. We recognized that there is a deeper need among both curious and committed employers to have access to a comprehensive, independent set of content and resources that support their journey towards building better health plans. The goal of our Employer Program is to inform and inspire employers — first, that higher performance health benefits plans are within reach, and second, that there are resources to support them every step of the way. If you are an employer and would like to be part of leading change, click here to reserve a spot. If you aren’t an employer, please share this program with civic and business leaders such as city managers, business executives and union leaders who are fed up with paying more for profiteering than care. After all, only $0.27 of every $1 ostensibly spent on health care actually goes to clinicians. We guide employers on how to ensure hard-earned money by the working and middle class benefits them, rather than Wall Street.

Additional resources that expand on what’s in Chapter 4 of Relocalizing Health:

About Health Rosetta

At Health Rosetta we empower community-owned health plans: high quality, trustworthy, local, affordable care — that you thought had disappeared forever — from caregivers we know and trust. We free up compassionate, well-trained, community-based caregivers to rediscover love in medicine so they can do what they have always been called to do: serve their patients not just in disease, but toward their fullest health. A trusted and sacred caregiver-patient bond is built through transparency and openness that equips and empowers patients wherever they can best achieve their unique health goals — at home or any setting best optimizing their health and well-being. By avoiding the 50% wasted healthcare spending, we can ensure our caregivers have the independence and resources to address the psychosocial and medical issues their patients face in human-centered health plans that restore health, hope and well-being in our communities.

Health Rosetta
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