Oct 9, 2018

Millennials are ditching primary care doctors

Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

First they came for chain restaurants, then golf, and now millennials are turning their backs on another old institution: primary care. Younger patients are increasingly turning away from primary care doctors and toward clinics or urgent care centers, the Washington Post reports.

By the numbers: In a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 45% of 18- to 29-year-olds didn't have a primary care provider. That number was significantly lower for older respondents.

Waiting several days for an appointment when you're sick is not super attractive to young people.

  • “These trends are more evident among millennials, but not unique to them. I think people’s expectations have changed," Harvard professor Ateev Mehrotra told the Post.
  • "Now people say, ‘That’s crazy, why would I wait that long?’" Mehrotra said.

Theoretically, primary care providers are supposed to be the people at the center of our care, keeping tabs on patients' health and helping to coordinate our various needs.

  • But if you're only using the health care system when something's acutely wrong, a walk-in clinic might seem more logical — and it's certainly more affordable than the emergency room, which used to fill those after-hours needs.

Yes, but: The care may not be as good.

  • In a recent study, almost half the people treated for a simple cold or flu at an urgent care clinic "left with an unnecessary and potentially harmful prescription for antibiotics," compared with just 17% of those treated by a primary care doctor, per the Post.
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