Millennials Are Now Ditching Their Primary Care Doctor

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The nation’s biggest generation, the Millennials, are doing things differently, including parenting, and now, how they receive healthcare. They want convenience and fast service, and are apparently ditching the old-school doctor’s office as their preferred form of primary care.

Many young adults are turning to walk-in clinics, urgent care centers that are open weekends, and online care without having to leave home. Unlike doctors’ offices, where charges are often opaque and disclosed only after services are rendered, many clinics and telemedicine sites post their ¬prices.

A national poll of 1,200 randomly selected adults found that 26 percent said they did not have a primary-care provider.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the survey found sharp generational shifts fueling that trend. Nearly half (45%) of 18-to-29 year olds said they didn’t have a primary care doctor. That figure fell to 28% for Americans aged 30 to 49 and just 18% and 12%, respectively, for people in the 50-to-64 and 65-plus cohort.

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“There is a generational shift,” said internist Ateev Mehrotra, an associate professor in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School. “These trends are more evident among millennials, but not unique to them. I think people’s expectations have changed. Convenience [is prized] in almost every aspect of our lives,” from shopping to online banking.

A same-day telehealth appointment may be more convenient and faster than booking an appointment with a busy doctor.

However, people with chronic conditions may benefit from the stability of a primary care doctor who can provide continuous care. In addition, Americans who live in areas where there is a shortage of doctors may have reason for using other methods for healthcare.

A recent report in JAMA Internal Medicine found that nearly half of patients who sought treatment at an urgent care clinic for a cold, the flu or a similar respiratory ailment left with an unnecessary and potentially harmful prescription for antibiotics, compared with 17 percent of those seen in a doctor’s office.

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