Millennials Slow to Pay Medical Bills

TransUnion’s study of Millennials’ relationship with consumer debt reveals that this generation differs from older generations in their financial behaviors and motivators, and they do so in ways that are of particular interest to healthcare revenue professionals. Select key findings of the study include:

  • Millennials lag in credit participation and differ greatly from Gen X in their use of credit cards
  • Millennials open fewer credit card and mortgage accounts, but open more auto and personal loans than Gen X
  • Subprime Millennials’ credit performance is worse than Gen X subprime consumers
  • Millennials are less likely to fully pay out-of-pocket medical expenses

That last point is one to hold in focus. Although as a generation, Millennials are overwhelmingly insured, they are especially slow to pay their balance healthcare bills. Results from the study reflect that in 2016, almost 75% of Millennials did not pay their medical bills in full, compared to 68% of Gen Xers and 60% of Baby Boomers. The problem is only getting worse: In 2015, 68% of Millennials did not pay their bill in full, up from 65% in 2014.

In this new era of patient-as-payer, hospitals and physician practices are growing in their concern that the amount of payments patients are responsible for is also increasing.  Healthcare consumers do not treat medical bill payments like loans or credit cards. Even people who promptly pay their mortgage or their car note either don’t pay, or take much longer to pay their medical bills. Yet, TransUnion’s study shows that in the last decade, the percentage of healthcare provider revenue collected directly from patients has increased from less than 10% to more than 30%. The trend is fueled by both insurers and employers shifting payment responsibility to patients in the form of higher premiums, copays, co-insurance and deductibles.

Millennials came of age during the 2010 Patient Protections and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Among other things, the ACA mandated health insurance, and it also allowed young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26. As Millennials face the harsh reality of skyrocketing medical costs and skimpy paychecks, other expenses are simply coming before paying their balance medical bills.

Source: Inside Arm