4 Different Generational Approaches to Employee Small Business Health Insurance


By Sally Poblete

Generations differ when it comes to clothing, politics, music, technology – you name it. It stands to reason that these differences can also extend to differences in approach, such as making important purchases like financial products, housing, and health insurance.

The United States was built on small businesses, and it is no surprise that owners range in ages from Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X, to Baby boomers. Each generation possesses a unique set of needs and desires from their health insurance. From the shopping experience to benefit provisions and premiums, we have broken out how each generation tends to view and approach the purchasing of small group health insurance.

Baby boomers (Boomers)

Baby boomers, or Boomers, are commonly defined as individuals born between 1946 and 1964, or people in the age range of 55 – 73. In 2011, the first people to be considered Boomers reached 65 years of age, also known as the standard age of retirement. Boomers were born into a far more analog world than the one we live in now. Notably, the majority of small businesses are owned by Boomers, with 73% reporting they want to grow their current businesses.

When it comes to employee health insurance, the small group premiums of Boomers are significantly higher than other generations, because with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) the only factors that can affect pricing are age and location. In addition, Boomers tend to prefer working face to face with a licensed broker and tend not to be as tech-savvy as later generations. They have also started qualifying for Medicare and are exploring those options in lieu of their group medical plans.

Generation X (Gen X)

Generation X, or Gen X, refers to individuals born between the early 1960s to the early 1980s or people in the age range of 35 – 54. Roughly 40% of small business owners are GenXers and they are at their prime working years. When purchasing employee health insurance, Gen Xers may be most familiar with working with a licensed broker in a face-to-face setting but are also open to optimizing their shopping experience through digital means. They are also at the age where their families are growing and therefore have needs beyond their own. They may be attracted to plans with lower deductibles and copays such as a PPO plan. Gex X 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.

Generation Y (Millennials / Gen Y)

Generation Y, or Millenials, refers to individuals born from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s or people in the age range of 24 – 34. Millennials have grown accustomed to using modern technology over the course of their adult lives; they were growing up at the same time the technology was advancing. Transparency is crucial for millennials; They want to know that they have viewed all the options and fully understand all the parts of the decision. This includes access to in-depth cost comparisons to ensure they are purchasing exactly what they need. They love the simplicity of technology and prefer to complete their transactions digitally. They are comfortable with High Deductible Health Plans as they tend to be young and healthy and don’t necessarily need all the benefits of a more traditional plan. In particular, Millennials benefit from Health Savings Accounts to save for the future and they also appreciate wellness incentives.

Generation Z (Gen Z / Zoomers)

Generation Z, or Zoomers, refers to individuals born from the late-1990s to the early 2000s or people between the age range of 13 – 23. As the youngest generation, they are the most accustomed to technological processes and approaches, as they truly have not experienced life without them. Zoomers are diverse and on track to be the most well-educated generation yet – making them the most likely generation to accept the continually improving technological advancements meant to make their shopping experiences more efficient. Research suggests that Zoomers are positioned to become a more entrepreneurial generation than millennials; They not only prefer digital transactions but have come to expect them no matter the purchase. 70% of Zoomers consider quality health insurance as a top priority in a job. This generation may still be eligible to remain on their parent’s plans if they are under the age of 26. They also love transparency but are not tied to traditional views on health plans or options.

No matter what your generational preferences are, health insurance will likely remain a need for you and your family. The one size fits all approach is not conducive to the multiple generations that are purchasing small business health insurance for themselves and their families. Thankfully, there are methods of approaching the purchasing of employee small business health insurance to appeal to any generation, regardless of their level of comfort with the technologies that be. However, surveys indicate that customers are moving online to make their purchasing decisions, and will continue to do so over time at an increased rate.