HEALTH

Millennials Are The Most Likely To Need Urgent Care For The Flu

They deal with being sick a little differently than other age groups

HEALTH
Photo Illustration: Vocativ
Dec 16, 2016 at 4:37 PM ET

While the flu typically doesn’t constitute a health emergency — especially in young, healthy people — it seems that young adults are taking themselves to the hospital or urgent care for their symptoms more often than anyone else.

A new report from Amino, a consumer healthcare company that collects data from electronic insurance claims, looked at the health care habits of over 450,000 patients. People in their twenties, they found, were more likely to get their flu diagnoses from emergency rooms and urgent care doctors than those of any other age group.

However, the report might say about the current state of health care than what one might want to assume: that millennials are weak, melodramatic and automatically start sniveling when they’re sniffling.

Given their fast-paced lifestyles and preference for convenient, on-demand healthcare (and everything else) younger adults probably don’t have primary care providers. Not only are they the generation most likely to switch jobs (and often health insurance plans as well), they’re also moving around more. And for those within their twenties who don’t have health insurance, ERs are legally required to provide care to all patients. Urgent care centers, which are among the fastest-growing segments of the American health care system according to market research firm IBIS World, likely comprise a large number of these diagnoses. They’re especially popular among young people, perhaps in part because they’re typically less expensive than a trip to the ER.

Amino also found that 20-somethings see ER and urgent care doctors frequently, relative to other kinds of doctors. For women, they account for 30 percent of all visits, second only to ob-gyns. Men in their twenties head to the ER or urgent care doctors about 37 percent of the time. Another recent survey shows that consumers between the ages of 18-34 tend to prefer these kinds of services for non-emergency treatment in general, weighing the convenience of walk-in appointments against the more traditional preference for consistency in a primary care doctor.

It’s partially because of this kind of health care preference that the end of primary care physicians has been heralded for years.

In terms of the flu specifically, one other reason young people are likely receive their flu diagnosis from doctors at all is that they try to ignore their symptoms until they get really bad. Also included within the report was a survey Amino conducted of 515 people between the ages of 20 and 30. They found that one in three chose to work through their illness at the office — further proof of another millennial myth that they’re not as hardworking as older peers.

Reminder: None of this will be a problem if you just get the flu shot.