September 27, 2022

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Younger Americans more likely to lose health insurance during pandemic

Roughly 3 out of 10 younger Americans say their health insurance coverage has been affected by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent survey from TransUnion. 

About 33{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb} of Gen Z (defined here as those born during 1995 or after) and 29{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb} of millennials (those born between 1980-1994) had their health insurance impacted by the pandemic, including losing coverage, according to a survey TransUnion Healthcare conducted last month of more than 3,000 people who visited a hospital, health-care clinic, doctor’s office or health-care organization in the last year. 

Only about 12{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb} of baby boomers experienced an impact because of Covid-19.

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Beyond losing health-care coverage, about half of Americans say the current state of the economy has affected how they seek medical care, TransUnion’s survey finds. Within that, a higher percentage of Gen Zers and millennials reported a difference. 

Yet overall out-of-pocket cost trends have not changed dramatically, TransUnion finds. The average consumer spent about $485 on emergency room visits and $5,002 on inpatient care this year, which is a decrease of 7{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb} and 5{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb}, respectively, from last year.

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That may be due to fewer Americans seeking care. About 44{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb} of employed Americans have put off medical care during the pandemic, according to a Willis Towers Watson survey released Wednesday. Of those that deferred care, 61{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb} said it was because of Covid-19 fears and 42{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb} cited cost concerns. 

Additionally, 47{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb} of Americans have used virtual care services in place of in-person appointments this year — almost three times more than last year (17{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb}), Wills Towers Watson finds. 

An average telehealth visit costs about $79, compared with about $146 for an office visit, according to a research paper published in May. But while telehealth could increase access and potentially replace an expensive urgent care visit with a virtual assessment, these appointments typically led to additional medical use, the researchers found. Only about 12{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb} of telemedicine visits completely replaced an in-person provider visit, which could increase out-of-pocket costs overall. 

However, many times, telemedicine visits may be provided for free by your employer or your insurer, making it a “smart thing” to look into using before heading into the doctor’s office, says Tracy Watts, a senior consultant with Mercer.

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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.