Millennial Corner: Skipping Doctor Visits—Not Cool

financial-edAs it turns out, about two years ago, we Millennials overtook Baby Boomers as the largest living generation. But, unlike Boomers, statistics show that peeps our age don’t have a good grasp of the facts when it comes to medical care. Read on my fellow Tower-ites.

doctor-visitSkipping Doctor Visits—Not Cool

My “temporary” roommate, Robert, ate all the Totino’s pizza rolls. On top of that, he snagged some Taco Bell Beefy Melts. He got sick. Real sick. What you gotta know about Rob-o is that he’s prone to poor fashion choices…as well as some questionable culinary selections.

It was obvious that Rob needed medical help for his gut. So I asked him to see a doctor. But his cowardly and delusional retort was to do what he always does—nothing.

Then it was like, BUT COME ON Robert–you’re killing our weekend of bliss. So I made him an appointment with Dr. Zhivago, toot-sweet.

While hanging in Doctor Z’s waiting room, I read a great article from Men’s Health about why Millennials tend to put off seeing the doctor. It had some good stuff that I never realized before. Got me thinkin’ about the main reasons we freak out when it comes to seeing a doctor…

We think it’s a waste of time and money.
Millennials tend to avoid doctor visits because we find visiting a doctor is a chore. A patient can find it hard to schedule an appointment at a convenient time.

Millennials want faster, more convenient care. Having been raised in an age when a diner can book a table at a favorite restaurant straight from a phone, millennials are wondering why it’s not as easy to do the same for our doctor appointments.

We’re also frugal and have more debt than other age groups, so we think regular visits are expenses we just can’t afford. In fact, half of millennials say we avoid seeing doctors to save money.

Many of us prefer to use urgent care centers, walk-in clinics, or emergency rooms for non-emergency care instead of our primary care doctors.

Some of us even just Google our symptoms or turn to WebMD hoping the Internet can diagnose and fix the problem.

We’re healthy. No point in getting a check-up.
Millennials are generally a physically healthy group when compared to older folks. Younger people aren’t going to have the types of chronic conditions that develop and increase with age.

We might not think we need a doctor to keep us healthy due to the abundance of high-tech products and health apps that manage and track our fitness, health and nutrition for us.

We are willing to go straight to the specialist.
When picking a doctor to visit, we’ve found it very easy to get a specialist referral through e-mail or telemedicine.

On top of that, millennials have more flexibility in choosing our internist or seeing specialists directly because fewer health plans nowadays require referrals or pre-approvals for specialist visits.

What does this all mean for Robert?
Rob’s a millennial. And like other millennials, he should stop dreading exams.

It’s true that the current healthcare system is a dinosaur of hidden costs and confusion. If it’s a concern over costs, there are a couple of things Rob can do. Price checks between health services via computer, mobile or even a call center are now available from certain health care plans. Also, he shouldn’t be afraid to ask his doc about discounts or less-expensive alternatives.

Rob’s tendency to use urgent care and emergency rooms (where patients see whoever is on call) rather than the same doctor consistently creates fragmented, episodic care.

This could result in a misdiagnosis of a chronic illness, or the added expense of repeated tests. That’s a bummer—’cause Rob needs to develop a longer-standing relationship with his doctor. He can do himself a favor if he would just look for a nearby internist that he likes and respects.

Rob shouldn’t skip the internist visit. They’re equipped to handle the broad and comprehensive spectrum of illnesses that affect adults, and are recognized as experts in diagnosis. That’s what he misses when he goes straight to the specialist.

And lastly, relying on health-apps in place of sound medical treatment is, ugh, NOT wise. (I swear I’m not against them when they make sense, though).

Resources: Blue Shield of North Carolina, MensHealth.com, International Business Times