In 1991, William Strauss and Neil Howe wrote the book Generations. It was recognized then and today as remarkable. The authors posit the history of America as a succession of generational biographies, beginning in 1584 and proceeds to the children of 1991. Their theory was that each generation belongs to one of four types, and that these types repeat sequentially in a fixed pattern.
In a (now) fascinating passage in the Preface, they discuss the Boomer Generation, saying (remember it’s 1991) that “You may feel some disappointment in the Dan Quayles and Donald Trumps who have been among your first agemates to climb life’s pyramid, along with some danger in the prospect of Boomer Presidents…farther down the road.” Later in the same paragraph: “Perhaps you already sense that your Boomer peers, for all their narcissism and parallel play, will someday leave a decisive mark on civilization quite unlike anything they have done up to now.” Spooky huh, as we embark on a Trump Presidency?
Generations, even that early, suggests that Millennials will be a uniquely impactful generation, mostly in a positive way, much like what they call the “GI” Generation and most of us call the “Greatest Generation.” Well… they fall in the same ordinal slot as the Greatest Generation given the following dates of birth for each generation: Greatest Generation (1901-24); Silent Generation ((1925-43); Boomer Generation (1943-60); Gen-X (1961-81); and Millennials (1982-2000). They have Boomers starting earlier than the traditional view, a position I very much agree with having been born in 1945.
Earlier this month, an article appeared in the Boston Globe titled Millennials Aren’t Lazy, They’re Workaholics. That didn’t quite fit with my impression, so I started digging a bit. I of course went on line and found a definition in the Urban Dictionary:
Special little snowflake.
Born between 1982 and 1994 this generation is something special, cause Mom and Dad and their 5th grade teacher Mrs. Winotsky told them so. Plus they have a whole shelf of participation trophies sitting at home so it has to be true.
They believe themselves to be highly intelligent, the teachers and lecturers constantly gave them “A”‘s in order to keep Mom and Dad from complaining to the Dean. Unfortunately, nobody explained to them the difference between an education and grade inflation so they tend to demonstrate poor spelling and even poorer grammar.
I got an e-mail from out of the blue the other day.
The e-mail informed me that a colleague, a man I respected greatly, had tendered his resignation at the hospital. That coming Friday would be his last day. There would be an informal gathering for staff at the hospital cafeteria and that would be that.
I was shocked. The physician in question was an institution at our hospital. As far as I knew he was happy, his patients loved him, he was respected by his peers. I could think of no earthly reason for him to go. This did not did not sound like the old friend I knew.
I did what any friend would do: I picked up the phone and called him.
“I just got the e-mail. What’s going on?” I asked “Is something up at home? Is everything ok with Sarah and the kids?”
“Nothing’s wrong. I’ve just been doing a lot of thinking. I’ve decided I want to spend time with the kids and explore some outside projects.
Outside projects? What sort of outside projects?
My friend was the not kind of guy who you thought of as spontaneously quitting his job. I pressed him. He finally broke down and confessed. He was miserable at work.
“It’s the bean counters. They’re everywhere. Every day I get an e-mail that says I’m underperforming on this metric or that metric. It’s making me crazy. My self-esteem can’t take it. Last week, I got an e-mail that told me I need to do a better job of answering patient e-mails. I didn’t even know they were allowed to e-mail us. How long has this been going on? I tell you, I love my patients, but I just can’t take it anymore.”
There has never been a time in my life when I’ve owed a lot of money. That certainly has changed these past two years as my husband and myself find ourselves with medical debt that we may never pay off . As you can guess, we have no health insurance – we can’t afford it and even if we did have an extra $650 a month we couldn’t obtain it due to our pre-existing conditions.
Briefly, I had emergency surgery to remove a cyst on my ovary in 2010, a diagnosis of an auto-immune disease in 2011 and two bladder cancer surgeries in 2012. My husband has had high blood pressure for over 25 years due to a heart defect discovered in his 30’s.
My husband and I live very simple lives and have little debt. For the past 18 years we’ve been self-employed, owning a retail music store, and for many of those years I worked for other companies. Some offered medical coverage, some did not. And for some of those years I was able to offer medical coverage for our few employees which also covered my husband and myself. The group coverage was minimal and started out being affordable but with increases it was impossible to afford for long. I tried catastrophic coverage but that was almost as expensive as regular coverage but with a higher deductible. Of course, neither my husband nor I needed the coverage when we had it! They say youth is wasted on the young. I say health insurance is wasted on the young!
America is only a few months away from Exchange Day—October 1, 2013—when the state and federal health exchanges open up for business. And when they do… well, I’d surprised if a whole lot happens at first; most people assume they open on January 1, 2014. But eventually there will be a flood of people streaming into the exchanges (virtually) to search for health insurance plans, including the Millennials.
Why? A variety of reasons. One is that people like being insured and prefer it to the uncertainty of being uninsured; those previously unable to purchase a policy they could afford now have subsidies to help them do so. Another is that people largely don’t have a choice—forego purchasing health insurance and get fined.
But the bottom line is this: whether compelled to do so by the safe feeling of being insured or the specter of a fine, Millennials are expected to be an enormous group of entrants into the exchanges: while we make up only 22% of the population, we account for 38% of the uninsured in America.
To compound our already-stratospheric opinion of ourselves, we know that the Millennials are a coveted market for health exchange insurers. Face it: you want us. Bad. That’s because we’re relatively healthy, loyal to brands we like that we see as having a positive impact (70% identify as being brand loyal), and we could actually be the first generation to recommend our health insurance plan to others.
So, culling from Millennial research, surveys, and conversations with fellow Millennials, here are a few morsels of unsolicited advice on how to win us over.