Parents may have different house rules, policies on behavior, and opinions on what their children are allowed to eat, but one thing nearly all parents have in common is the enforcement of health rituals. Attending an annual doctor’s appointment and bi-annual dental appointments (at a minimum) was a part of life for our first 18 years. Cutting class was achievable, but skipping a doctor’s appointment was not. No matter how active or involved our parents were, the bare minimum they had to do to stay in the ‘decent parent’ category was to ensure we had all of our shots and clean teeth. Because if we didn’t, the school would know and people would start to notice, and depriving your child of healthcare was one of those borderline child cruelty things.
Even during the college years, most students remained on their parent’s healthcare plan. Again, the ability to skip out on a doctor’s appointment or lie about not going wasn’t easy. Our parents had the ability to keep track of the appointments we went to through their providers (and even more easily through the bills). Many of us stayed with our childhood dentists and pediatricians, making the appointments an extension of our childhood ritual. When there are offices chasing us down reminding us (and out parents) to schedule appointments, the guilt factor of not attending to our bodies when someone is waving it in our faces was also difficult.
After graduating, attending to physical wellness suddenly becomes very different.
Many of us move to new cities, and everyone inherently ages out of their pediatrician’s care. The effort of finding not only a new dentist or doctor, but the time to go to the doctor, suddenly becomes a lot less routine and a lot more challenging. The thrill of missing class is replaced with the stress of missing work, and before we know it, it’s been two years since our last doctor’s appointment.
In addition to scheduling difficulties, millennials are an enigma of a generation. We care a lot about our health and wellness, however going to the doctor isn’t always our prerequisite to maintaining health. Self-care has become a new trend, which is when an individual puts time and effort into cultivating good health whether this is through exercise, diet, or mental and spiritual wellness. We assume we are healthy because we take care of ourselves (we are invincible, remember?) but of course, this is not always the case.
Millennials are averse to seeing doctors because of healthcare costs, and their impression that their healthcare providers are not transparent about the fees they should expect. 27% of millennials put off doctor’s visits due to high costs. Additionally, 29% of millennials put off basic appointments because they are worried about whether insurance companies will cover basic costs. This is compared to 13.5% of people over the age of 35.
The responsibility of suddenly having to make appointments ourselves and take time out of our busy schedules is only compounded by the concern over whether insurance will even cover these appointments. Ultimately, millennials have an incredible focus on well-being, however doctors are not integral to this well-being for the first few years out of school. Once a millennial hits 26 or 27, and has a higher salary with a more flexible schedule, that is when they return to the doctor and dentist appointments, thus reinstating the necessary healthcare routine. While a few years of neglecting the doctor or the dentist sometimes works out okay, ironically a lot of people who shy away from going for years are faced with even larger bills to fix problems that could have been prevented with regular visits. While going to the doctor or dentist may seem like an expense and inconvenient thing to do out of school, it truly is beneficial to keep up the routine of going. Yoga and meditation unfortunately cannot fix all of our problems, as much as we millennials would love it to.