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Health-Care Industry Prepares for Gen Z and Its Values

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 Mike Moen, Producer

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Tuesday, August 8, 2023   

Mental-health coverage and using digital devices to communicate with doctors’ offices are among the health-care priorities of Generation Z. Providers are urged to make note of the needs of patients born between the late 1990s and the early 2010s. Industry researchers say like a lot of other age groups, Gen Z embraces telemedicine. But as these individuals begin to navigate adulthood, they also value apps that make it easier to schedule appointments, manage conditions and look up data. 

Richelle Andrae, government relations specialist with the Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association, said more importantly, this generation wants to feel empowered when receiving care.

“I don’t think a Gen Z individual is really likely to just be directed to what to do with their health care,” she said. “They need that buy-in and options so that they can have a voice in the process of providing care.”

She said Gen Z deserves praise for normalizing conversations regarding behavioral health amid nationwide calls to expand mental-health care and insurance plans to cover those expenses. According to Y-Pulse data, 71% of consumers in this age group say they value brands that incorporate mental health as part of their marketing.

Dr. Donald Tavakoli, national medical director for behavioral health with United Healthcare, said Z is just starting to enter the workforce. Because they report higher rates of depression, eating disorders and even suicidal behaviors, he said it is important they understand terms such as deductibles, co-insurance and out-of-pocket when signing up for plans.

“They have significant rates of mental illness, so we think it’s really important that they first have their health insurance lingo down – really understanding the common terms of how to navigate health insurance,” he said. 

Industry experts say because they prioritize their mental health, these individuals are likely to seek out employers who offer packages with quality behavioral health coverage. 

Health equity is another priority for Gen Z. Andrae said her organization, which is the member association for community health centers around Wisconsin, is trying to reduce access barriers for underserved populations, including young adults and adolescents.

“They may not have a parent or a family member or a guardian who can take them to a clinic after work,” Andrae said. Maybe that parent or guardian is working multiple jobs.” 

Disclosure: United Healthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.