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Is the healthcare system ready for Gen X?

By
Tasha Williams
July 24, 2017
5 min read
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Leonardo DiCaprio, Snoop Dogg, and Elon Musk are getting older.

Once the upstarts in their fields, these folks are among the first wave of Generation Xers that are, ready or not, beginning their transition to middle age. And as Gen X’ers age, the demand to meet their health and wellness needs could fundamentally change the healthcare system.

Generation X, currently at the peak of their professional careers, is earning more income at this age than their parents did and have a home ownership rate of 82 percent. But overall, this age group has comparatively less wealth. Gen X'ers make up just 17% of the wealthy and affluent (more than $100,000 of investable assets) market in the United States, while Boomers and older persons make up as much as 55%. This “middle child” generation never received the job security prior generations may have taken for granted.

The financial crisis of the late 2000’s impacted Gen X'ers the most, decimating a considerable portion of their assets. Now the economy is well into recovery, but many Gen X'ers have found themselves obligated financially to the wellbeing of three generations. Given this squeeze, it is little surprise that Gen X'ers tend to worry about how they will meet their own financial needs during their retirement years.

This concern takes the quest for good health beyond a mere desire for a long life. One of the largest costs during the golden years for many people is healthcare. Studies indicate the average Gen X couple may “need 116% of lifetime Social Security payments to cover healthcare costs.” Preventive care and healthy living will likely be a priority defense against the potential risk of depleting retirement funds.

Aging gracefully will be important to Generation X. While Boomers may have started the practice of moving the needle with mantras like “40 is the new 30”,  Gen X'ers are also concerned about maintaining the appearance of youth and vitality. In a survey, forty percent of Gen X'ers admitted to worrying about their looks and 24 percent reveal that would seek medical help with their personal concerns. 

Thanks to streaming services, mobile apps, and social media, Gen X'ers, as the living bridge between the analog and the digital age, can access more health and wellness information than their elders ever dreamed. The unassuming demographic, (mis)labeled “nothing special” and “slackers”, happens to be very comfortable with technology and those people ages 35-49 are more active on social media than Millennials on some platforms. Well informed and money conscious, this demographic has become the top decision makers in their workplaces, families, and communities. Once they find a good solution, X'ers have the “highest rate of brand loyalty, at 70 percent.”

Marketers have largely ignored the demographic wedged between the more numerous and attention grabbing Boomers and Millennials. The U.S. Census Bureau, however, haspredicted that Generation X (now 36- 52) will “pass the Boomers in population by 2028.” 

Societal expectations for vitality and longevity have increased over generations along with advances in healthcare. This raises questions: Is Generation X prepared for the unique health challenges of getting older? More importantly, is the health industry getting ready to meet their needs? Companies with solutions for prevention, general wellness, and healthy lifestyle choices will provide the answers.

Tivity Health, in our healthy living portfolio, is one of these companies providing answers. Their Silver Sneakers program promotes vital physical and social activity through 13,000 facilities nationwide.

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