SURVEY: Younger Workers Least Comfortable Navigating U.S. Healthcare System

PUBLISH DATE: April 12, 2016

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. – April 12, 2016 – Human resources executives are making significant investments in health benefits and health-related services for employees, but the Accolade Consumer Healthcare Experience Index survey indicates that they could get more for their healthcare investments by factoring how age and life circumstances influence how people use and experience their health benefits.

Working families and workers under 30 years old need the most support in using their benefits and healthcare as they are the least comfortable in their personal knowledge and skills to navigate medical benefits and healthcare system. While they want more healthcare resources, they aren’t utilizing the tools and programs available to them due to a perceived lack of relevance and time.

These and other findings were drawn from a national survey conducted online by Harris Poll, on behalf of Accolade, an on-demand healthcare concierge for employers, health plans and health systems. The survey of 1,536 Americans ages 18+ with health insurance provided insights into how consumers differ in their experience and use of healthcare benefits depending on their age and where they are in their work lifecycle, including:

Young Workers (averaging under 30 years of age) are the least comfortable with their personal knowledge and skills in navigating the healthcare system. Only 56 percent say they are comfortable in this ability compared to 76 percent of retirees. They also report the least positive experience with their healthcare and benefits (38 percent) and the most hassles in navigating their care, including understanding cost, coordinating care, choosing and understanding benefits, and finding a doctor they can relate to. Additionally, this group cites financial issues and a lack of knowledge about healthcare as the top reasons for making poor health decisions.

Working Families (average age 39) gave the second-lowest positive rating of their overall benefits and healthcare experience (42 percent). Working Families report they spend significantly more time dealing with healthcare issues than either younger workers or older workers, perhaps reflecting the added health needs of children and parents or other relatives. Working families cite cost of services and medications as the top reason (60 percent) driving poor healthcare decisions and also cite competing responsibilities (42 percent) to a greater degree than other groups (averaging 30 percent each).

Older Workers (average age 56) are the second-most pleased with their healthcare experience, though less than half (45 percent) gave it a positive rating. Older workers also miss less work, are less distracted by health issues and spend less time dealing with healthcare issues than working families.

Retirees (average age 69) express the highest amount of comfort in their healthcare decision-making abilities (76 percent), the most positive healthcare experience (59 percent), and they perceive the fewest hassles in navigating their care and benefits.

“Companies are spending millions of dollars each year launching programs and different point solutions to help their employees use healthcare effectively, but this survey shows how individuals are getting lost in the process,” said Robert Cavanaugh, president of Field Operations for Accolade. “Health benefits executives should be asking if they’re really getting the maximum return on these tools and technologies, if they’re actually creating additional problems and complexity for employees, and whether programs are working for everyone, from young workers to working families to older workers at different stages of their life and health journeys.”

Through its on-demand healthcare concierge model, Accolade supports individuals across all age and demographic groups as they and their families’ health and life circumstances change over time. By engaging an average of five times per year with the healthiest individuals and 24 times per year with those experiencing the most significant and acute health and mental health issues, Accolade Health Assistants are supporting 90 percent of families consuming healthcare, two-thirds of the time before a healthcare event occurs. This level of engagement is generating an annual savings of more than 10 percent in annual healthcare costs for employers.

What Employers Can Do
Based on insights gleaned from supporting nearly a million insured adults across every life stage, Accolade recommends that employers:

Consider multi-generational needs and priorities when crafting their health benefits strategy. Ask the fearless question: are the health programs and tools I’m offering actually being used by all eligible employees? What should I be offering differently to employees at different stages of their life that will best align with their unique healthcare needs and preferences?
Segment communications. Cut through the noise by defining the value proposition of your available benefits by life stage. Tailor messaging highlighting different benefits and use different imagery that will resonate with each group.
Personalize support. Employees need help navigating the system, particularly when they are in a high-need, high-stress, high-cost situation. That help is not likely to come from physicians, so people need other trusted resources who know employees’ benefits and their life circumstances to serve as guides.
Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Accolade from September 8-10, 2015 among 1,536 Americans ages 18+ with health insurance. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and, therefore, no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Data were not weighted nor were representative only of those surveyed. Harris Poll was not responsible for the analysis or reporting of the results. The survey data were subjected to a hierarchical cluster analysis in order to group respondents into distinct categories based on their similarities and differences. Four groups emerged: Young Workers, Working Families, Older Workers and Retirees. For complete survey methodology please contact lynn.shepherd@accolade.com. More information on the Accolade Consumer Health Experience Index can be found here.

About The Harris Poll
Over the last five decades, Harris Polls have become media staples. With comprehensive experience and precise technique in public opinion polling, along with a proven track record of uncovering consumers’ motivations and behaviors, The Harris Poll has gained strong brand recognition around the world. The Harris Poll offers a diverse portfolio of proprietary client solutions to transform relevant insights into actionable foresight for a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer packaged goods. Contact us for more information.

About Accolade
Accolade is an on-demand healthcare concierge for employers, health plans and health systems. Accolade’s team of compassionate, exceptional professionals is supported by breakthrough science and technologies to guide people through the healthcare system in a deeply personalized manner. Accolade customers experience industry-leading engagement levels, satisfaction scores unseen in healthcare, better health outcomes, and cost savings of more than 10 percent. Accolade has been recognized as one of the nation’s 25 most promising companies by Forbes magazine, the fastest-growing private healthcare company by Inc. 500 and a Top Workplace for five consecutive years. For more information, visit www.accolade.com.