Health Check / Why aren’t young people seeing a doctor?
When I moved to Connecticut last year from Massachusetts, I experienced many unusual things: living in Yankees and Giants territory, people saying the city and referring to New York City and driving instead of taking the T.
However, the most unusual thing I experienced was not going to the doctor. Finding a doctor for my annual physical got lost in the shuffle of moving and I ended up just not going at all in 2016.
I am usually a stickler for going to the doctor every year. But skipping a yearly physical actually put me in the majority. According to a study from Zocdoc, 93 percent of millennials don’t schedule doctor appointments. Zocdoc, an online medical care scheduling service, reported this is largely due to not wanting to miss work for an appointment and how difficult it is to actually get in touch with a doctor’s office via phone.
Data from the 2014 Consumer Health Mindset from Aon Hewitt, the National Business Group on Health and The Futures Company further expanded on this within the general workplace. The survey showed many people in the workforce don’t stay healthy due to lack of cost information, confusing coverage and lack of access to a doctor.
A poll of my colleagues, most of whom are millennials, yielded corresponding results. One of my coworkers told me he goes back to his native country for healthcare because it’s cheaper than going to the doctor here.
I decided to delve into this deeper, so I sat down to discuss healthcare with my friend and coworker, Justin. He and I were on the same beat when I arrived at my job and he became my guide for adjusting to postgrad life. He’s also one of many millennials who doesn’t go to the doctor, partially because of his confusing healthcare coverage.
“Part of it is going back to not doing research,” he said. “It’s scary checking out and not knowing what the co-pay is.”
Justin said his friends, also in their mid-twenties, avoid going to the doctor for similar reasons. Some don’t get insurance through their employer and find the cost of it too expensive (Justin himself confessed he had to pick up a second job after accidentally signing up for pricey health insurance when he went off his parent’s plan last year). Part of it also has to do with time constraints, as the Zocdoc survey attested.
“I paid for this very expensive health plan, got a second job and didn’t have time to go,” he said. “I was told I needed it and not to skimp, but I paid for something I couldn’t afford to use.”
In my experience, the trouble with going to the doctors could equally be put on the healthcare providers themselves. When I finally ended up going to the doctor this summer, I ran into similar troubles, but at no fault of my job.
Still being on my parent’s plan, I wasn’t as worried about high copays... until I got slammed with out of pocket expenses for extensive experimental blood testing the doctor didn’t tell me he was planning on doing. When I called about it, the secretary told me I should’ve told him not to do it...as if he’d warned me beforehand.
Then there was the timing: I had one physical that took almost three hours because I ended up needing an echocardiogram to confirm I don’t have a tricuspid valve. Then I had to go back for blood work. Then I had to return again to “go over my bloodwork” where I sat in the office for an hour and a half before having to leave for prior plans. I never saw the doctor, but you can bet he attempted to charge me for that too.
I will not be returning to that provider, so I’m back to where I was last summer. The stress is setting in again about where I can find someone else who’ll take my insurance. Going to the doctor gives me a peace of mind, but the older I get, the more I begin to see the roadblocks between the average person and “simple” healthcare.