Spend

This uncertain economy is pushing a third of millennials to visit the doctor

Source: Twenty20

When's the best time to visit the doctor? For many, it's when the market is starting to tank.

Over half of millennials (ages 25 to 39) admit that the state of the economy plays a role in how they think about health care, according to a new survey of 2,500 U.S. adults by TransUnion Healthcare. And for about 32% of millennials, the recent market upheavals have actually prompted them to go in for a checkup or take care of a medical procedure they'd been putting off.

"As more of the cost burden for medical care shifts to patients, people are paying attention to news about the economy and the impact it may have on their families," says Dave Wojczynski, president of TransUnion Healthcare.

But why the rush now? During a recession, health-care costs typically tick up, Jonathan Wiik, principal of health-care strategy at TransUnion Healthcare, tells CNBC Make It. But for millennials, this issue is a little more personal. Americans, and in particular, millennials are thinking; "I'd better go to the doctor before I lose my job and my health insurance," he says.

About half of Americans get their medical insurance through their employer, according to a recent data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Currently, about 92% of Americans have some form of health insurance, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report. Yet the number of Americans with health insurance dropped for the first time last year, due in part to political efforts to weaken the Affordable Care Act.

An average healthy American with insurance making $50,000 a year is still stuck paying $2,220 in premiums and out-of-pocket costs, according to KFF. Over half of Americans, 59%, say they paid over $500 for out-of-pocket medical costs in 2018, while 5% say they paid over $1,000, according to a survey from TransUnion Healthcare.

"Patients are now experiencing larger out-of-pocket costs due to increased cost shifting in commercial and government plans so the onus is now on them to know what their financial responsibility is upfront," Wojczynski says.

Millennials in particular, are taking a hard look at the cost of going to the doctor before they book an appointment, results from the TransUnion survey found. Just over 70% say knowing the out-of-pocket expenses increases the chance of going to the doctor or pursuing a procedure — more so than any other generation surveyed.

If you're concerned about the cost of a visit to the doctor or a specific procedure you've been putting off, Wiik recommends checking with your insurance company and your specific physician before setting up an appointment. Many times, they will be able to give you information on your co-pay or an estimate on the cost of routine services such as MRIs or X-rays. But consumers should keep in mind that hospital estimates may not always include all of the physician costs and fees associated with variables such as anesthesia.

"Consumerism is here to stay in the health-care industry," Wojczynski says. But that's no reason to put off your annual checkup, especially with an uncertain economic outlook.

Don't miss: Would a 'Medicare for All' plan help you save money on your family's health-care costs? It's complicated

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