Author: Abhas Rajhans
Rapid improvements in technology have allowed people, especially young people, to access tons of information faster than ever before. It has revolutionized communication, and has dismantled the information skew present in the late 20th century. Even in this time of mass information spread, young adults have "significantly lower rates of health care system utilization...but higher emergency room visit rates compared with those immediately younger and older than them", the NIH reports*. The most often cited cause is the unreasonably high cost of healthcare for American young adults, but studies stray from public opinion.
From a child's perspective, going to the doctor may be daunting, even scary at times. The waiting lobby, the dated magazines, and the sterile atmosphere can be unnerving. For a young adult trying to get healthcare, the experience is quite similar - complex documentation, strict rules and procedures, and unknown payments often overcharging those already strapped for cash. Faced with such an experience, any young adult would try to do what a scared child would do - avoid going to the doctor. Key findings from the NIH report state that most young adults simply do not understand the healthcare system, and the transition from child to adult medical care is the breaking point for most. Discontinued care, lack of communication, low availability, absence of any guidance, and high costs all serve to push young people away from healthcare. This means that even if a large proportion of young people were able to afford healthcare, many would not even consider the option to enroll in a program due to its complications.
It is easy to characterize the healthcare system as "evil" and insurance companies as "self-serving" and "heartless". While those comments can be justified, they don't do much to solve the healthcare issues our young population faces. After all, at the end of the day, health is treated as a business.
But, if other businesses can cater their user experience to attract young people, why can't healthcare companies do that same? Simplifying the procedure, making it relatable, and improving accessibility by having mobile access can essentially equate getting health insurance to ordering an Uber.
Modern problems require modern solutions.
*Committee on Improving the Health, Safety, and Well-Being of Young Adults; Board on Children, Youth, and Families; Institute of Medicine; National Research Council; Bonnie RJ, Stroud C, Breiner H, editors. Investing in the Health and Well-Being of Young Adults. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2015 Jan 27. 7, The Health Care System. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK284795/