Gen Z Survey Results: 3 Strategies for Reaching Healthcare's Newest Consumers

Recent Engagys research illustrates that members of Gen Z have varying levels of understanding healthcare and mixed levels of trust with their healthcare providers and health insurance plans. Clearly, there’s a disconnect between Gen Z expectations and how health plans typically engage with their members. This directly impacts Gen Z’s ability to build relationships with their providers and health insurance plans, laying a shaky foundation for future healthcare encounters.

Generation Z (Gen Z), defined by Pew Research Center as the group of people born from 1997 onward, is the generation that follows the much-maligned Millennials.1

Recent findings from an Engagys Gen Z research survey2 show that:

  • Only 23% fully understand health insurance
  • Yet 45% trust their health insurance
  • And 38% trust their healthcare provider

Further, there’s a gap in meeting their expectations as it relates to personal wellness and mental health.

  • 81% reported that personal health and wellness are important or very important
  • 79% said mental health is important or very important
  • And yet only 28% think their health plan values their personal and mental health

As Gen Z begins to age out of their parents’ health plans and increasingly enter the workforce, their attitudes on healthcare points to an incredible opportunity for health plans and healthcare providers to address the gap in meeting Gen Z expectations.

In order to build a stronger healthcare foundation, consider these three approaches to better meet their needs:

1. Capture and honor channel preferences and permissions to meet Gen Z members where, how, and when they want. This is an essential step to start earning trust with this audience. Not surprisingly, this generation overwhelmingly wants to be communicated to with digital channels (41% prefers email and 34% prefers text communications from their health plan).

2. Highlight your mental health benefits and wellness offerings to emphasize network strength or other plan design features that will help support holistic wellness utilization. Helping Gen Z get the care they need and want will benefit everyone.

3. Launch an age-out campaign as a retention strategy specifically for those who are aging off their parent’s plan. Most students don’t learn “healthcare 101” in their grade school curriculum, so your organization can help fill that gap. An educational outreach campaign can help you start building credibility towards a longer-term trusted relationship. This type of “sticky” approach can also be viewed as an investment in brand recognition and loyalty, enhancing the likelihood they may select your plan during open enrollment.

As needs and preferences change over time, it’s crucial to keep your finger on the pulse of those shifting sentiments and attitudes. Conducting routine qualitative and quantitative research can help you better understand these motivating factors. Gen Z knows what they need and want when it comes to healthcare, and health plans and providers are uniquely positioned to help deliver on those expectations.

Special thanks to Bradyn Radford for designing and launching the Engagys Gen Z survey. Bradyn is a senior at Clarkson University, a member of Gen Z, and an outstanding intern with a bright future ahead.

Survey Methods

Executed in summer 2022, 434 participants aged 18-26 responded to the survey representing all genders and regions of the United States.

1 Defining generations: Where Millennials end and Generation Z begins.

2 Engagys Survey. Generation Z Healthcare Attitudes. August 2022

Lara Romanowski
  • Lara Romanowski

As a health communicator and digital marketing strategist, Lara helps providers, health plans, and health tech companies accelerate their engagement with consumers. Her omnichannel campaign expertise includes campaign optimization, design, delivery, and measurement, including persona development, audience segmentation, A/B testing, and campaign evaluation. Lara is passionate about translating complex health and medical concepts into easily digestible information for patients, providers, and experts using plain language and health literacy principles. Her communications experience extends to strategy development, executing go-to-market plans, as well as media relations.