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

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. 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. See summary and infographic below:

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.

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