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Bringing Millennial Health into the 21st Century

July 19, 2019

Millennials comprise the largest portion of today’s workforce. Their good health has key considerations for America. Millennials are also very educated, tech savvy and want to make a positive difference in the world. Do these values translate into good health? Are millennials in better health than the prior generation (Gen X)? A recent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) study reveals that the answers weren’t what you might expect.

The study by BCBSA and Blue Health Intelligence® (BHI) titled, The Health of Millennials, looked at the generation’s overall health. The collected data was from 55 million individuals born between 1981 and 1995 covered by commercial insurance. It evaluated claims data from 2017.

The study looked at the top 10 conditions affecting millennials. When 2017 results were compared to those from 2014, there was significant worsening. Millennials had an increase in all 10 of these top conditions. Eight conditions increased by at least 10 percent. Four were more common in millennials than the general population (marked with “*”). The percent increase from 2014 to 2017 of these conditions are as follows:

  • Major Depression – 31%
  • Hyperactivity – 29%*
  • Type 2 Diabetes – 22%
  • Hypertension – 16%
  • Psychotic conditions – 15%*
  • High cholesterol – 12%
  • Substance use disorder – 10%*
  • Chron’s/Ulcerative colitis – 10%
  • Tobacco use disorder – 7%
  • Alcohol use disorder – 1%*

These conditions also affect a significant number of millennials. The following occurred in at least five out of 100 millennials between 21 and 36 years old in 2017. The numbers have been rounded to the nearest whole number:

  • Hypertension – 8 per 100
  • Hyperactivity – 7 per 100
  • High cholesterol – 6 per 100
  • Tobacco use disorder – 6 per 100
  • Major depression – 5 per 100

Older millennials (34 to 36 years old) when compared to Gen Xers at the same age did worse. Millennials showed an increase in eight out of 10 of the same top conditions. The rates of increase seen among older millennials are as follows:

  • Hyperactivity – 37%
  • Type 2 Diabetes – 19%
  • Major depression – 18%
  • Chron’s/Ulcerative colitis – 15%
  • Substance use disorder – 12%
  • Tobacco use disorder – 11%
  • Hypertension – 10%
  • High cholesterol – 7%

To address these concerns, Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are launching workshops across the country. These Millennial Health Listening Sessions seek to learn from experts, employers, digital leaders and millennials to create a path toward better health for this generation.

2Health of America Report, The Health of Millennials, April 24, 2019, https://www.bcbs.com/the-health-of-america/reports/the-health-of-millennials