by WEX Health
Last month we launched a series of blog posts exploring the unique healthcare needs of each generation and what resonates with each when it comes to healthcare marketing and decision-making. Whether you’re an HR professional, a third-party benefits administrator or an employer, our hope is to leave you better prepared to engage each generation with their healthcare benefits. First, we covered Baby Boomers. Up next: Generation X.
Generation X: A generational profile
Gen X is comprised of those born between 1965 and 1981, making them anywhere between 38 and 53 years old today. Because it is sandwiched between two enormous generations (Baby Boomers and Millennials), the 66 million folks in this cohort are often referred to as “overlooked” or “neglected” or the “latchkey generation,” as parents were more likely to be both working—or divorced—than previous generations.
Gen X is smaller because of lower fertility rates and because it spans just 16 years as opposed to the ordinary 20 years that define other generations. It’s also been more difficult to pin down—while Boomers are predominantly white and Millennials far more diverse, Gen X is middle of the road in terms of diversity, as 61 percent of this generation is white or non-Hispanic. Even when summarizing their attitudes on political and social issues, it’s easiest to point out that Gen X fits somewhere in between the more conservative Boomers and more liberal Millennials. Though Millennials surpassed Gen X as the largest labor force in 2016, Gen X holds a close second place—there are now 53 million Gen Xers who are working or are looking for work.
Health benefits concerns unique to Gen X
Gen X is more skeptical than other generations that they’ll have enough money for retirement, in part because they were hit hardest by the Great Recession. Forty-four percent told Pew Research Center they are not confident about having enough money for retirement. And wealth management firm Personal Capital found that a third of Gen X have no money saved for retirement. In other words, they will need extra assistance shoring up for healthcare expenses later in life.
This is especially important to do as this generation heads into their peak earning years. According to Deloitte Consulting, Gen X should see the greatest increase in income and savings over the next 11 years, amassing $37 trillion by 2030 and overtaking Boomers as the wealthiest generation. It’s no surprise that almost three-quarters of Gen Xers consider themselves their family’s chief health decision makers.
As STAT points out, “Gen Xers were the first to grow up in an era of internet-available health information. They also grew up with direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs and consumer activism in health care. They witnessed firsthand the AIDS crisis and the dawn of health advocacy. As a result, they bring a less passive and more discerning attitude towards health than the generations that preceded them.”
Tips for engaging Gen X with their healthcare benefits
- Establish trust to earn loyalty. Known for questioning authority and big business, Gen Xers are also more likely to be loyal—both to their physicians and to brands. Consider ways to earn their trust, including with transparent and open communication and evidence-based messaging.
- Reach them with video. Gen Xers are responsible for 1.5 billion YouTube views each day, and they’re particularly into DIY videos: 73 percent turn to YouTube to learn how to do something and 64 percent have purchased products or services found on DIY videos. How can you integrate video into your efforts to educate Gen X about their benefits options?
- Align with executives. With most Gen Xers now having 20 years of workplace experience under their belts, this generation also currently holds the majority of business leadership roles (51 percent globally), which means they’re the ones most likely to be calling the shots about employees’ healthcare benefits. As such, taking the time and effort to tailor your messaging to Gen X workers may be especially beneficial.
- Help them look after their parents’ and their children’s healthcare needs. This is the generation most likely to be caregivers—perhaps taking care of both their adult children and their aging parents—so they’re likely looking for benefits information that applies to themselves as well as to their multi-generational family members.
- Engage them with social media. Much has been said about Millennials being the first digital natives, but Gen X is just as likely to be dialed into today’s technology. New research found that 54 percent of Gen Xers consider themselves to be digitally savvy. And when it comes to social media, no one uses it more. This generation uses social media 40 minutes more each week than Millennials. They’re also more likely to stay on their phones at the dinner table and they log the most amount of time on every device—phones, tablets and computers.
- Focus on retirement goals. Because this generation is concerned about hitting retirement comfortably, they’ll be looking for ways to maximize retirement savings. This makes them ripe for introduction to health savings accounts (HSAs), which account holders can use to accumulate and invest their savings tax-free, earmarking it for qualified medical expenses during retirement.
Stay tuned for our blog posts on Millennials and Generation Z.