What happens when millennials get their own health insurance plan? Unfortunately, not enough. They’re much less likely than Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979) to have a primary care physician.
Here are excerpts from the latest episode of Hartford HealthCare’s More Life podcast, in which Dr. Rosario (shown above) talks about millennial health and the importance of the primary care connection.
Q: Statistics show us that nearly 50 percent of millennials do not have a primary care doctor. Is that something that you’re seeing in your practice?
A: “Absolutely. I do have millennials in my practice but most of my patients are older, the baby boomers. Statistics do show that millennials don’t like to go to the doctor. They feel, ‘I’m healthy, I don’t need to see the doctor,’ but having a PCP is extremely important regardless of the age or gender. It’s always a good idea to establish, develop and maintain a relationship with your primary care physician. Once you establish that they’ll get to know you, foster that relationship of trust, and you’ll feel more comfortable having conversations about your health.”
Q: It’s not unusual for women to skip the primary care visits once they establish a relationship with their OB/GYN. Why do we need both?
A: “It used to be that women were to be seen by their gynecologist on a yearly basis. Now, since recommendations have changed, it is typically every three years. Your primary care physician will not only look at your overall health, but will recommend age-appropriate screenings including a Pap smear and mammogram.”
Q: What age do you recommend big kids transition from their pediatrician to an adult primary doctor?
A: “When they are 18 years old they can start coming to our practice. They’re considered adults and most pediatric practices will encourage patients to be seen by an adult doctor — not only because of age but also because in pediatrics most medications and treatments are based on weight. Once you’re past a certain weight your body is physiologically adult and an adult doctor is more capable of caring for you moving forward.”
Q: How can we bridge that gap for young adults, often in college, who age out of their pediatric care and don’t pursue a primary care physician?
A: “It can be difficult for this age who are finding their freedom and independence. Parents can play in big role in that. Females are more likely to come in for age-appropriate screening and family planning. It can be more difficult to convince young adult males. I see it in my older male patients as well. It can be challenging to get them into care and even more challenging to get them to do necessary preventive medicine or their preventive tests.”
Q: Does the average millennial need a physical every year?
A: “Annual visits are key — even if you’re feeling healthy. You can have high blood pressure and not notice. Your cholesterol may be a little bit off from eating out so often with your friends. Your weight might have gone from an overweight to an obesity category. You may have diabetes and not even recognize the subtle symptoms or have no symptoms at all. The key is prevention. That’s what primary care doctors are made of. We want to help you maintain your health for years to come.”