Youth and health seem to go hand-in-hand, but the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index for 2017 says otherwise.
Nearly 73 million people in the U.S. are millennials — those born between 1981 and 1996 — and analysis of data by BCBS suggests that older millennials are facing higher rates of the top 10 conditions than did Generation X when they were in the same age range — 34-36. The top 10 conditions include six behavioral health conditions — major depression, substance use disorder, alcohol use disorder, psychotic conditions, hyperactivity and psychotic conditions — and four physical health conditions — hypertension, high cholesterol, type II diabetes and Crohn’s disease/Ulcerative colitis.
“With younger generations facing health challenges at earlier ages than previous generations, measuring the health of millennials is critical to improving this generation’s long-term health and wellness,” the report suggests.
According to the data, about 83 percent of millennials consider themselves in good health and about 63 percent of millennials have a primary care physician.
“Insights from the BCBS Health Index show that the major decline in health, on average, begins at age 27,” the report suggests.
Millennials, “which will soon be the largest generation of Americans in the workforce,” suffer from major depression at a rate of 31 percent higher than the rate measured in 2014. Substance use disorder and alcohol use disorder is also on the rise, according to the report.
“Millennials had 11 percent more total adverse health across these condition groupings than did Gen Xers when they were the same age,” the report suggests. “This increase was driven by a 21 percent increase in cardiovascular conditions and a 15 percent increase in endocrine conditions, including diabetes. Behavioral health conditions explain about 40 percent of adverse health for both millennials and Gen Xers.”
The report also notes that older millennials in southern states and northeastern states are less healthy than those living in western states.
“The health status of millennials will likely have substantial effects on the American economy over the next two decades—including workplace productivity and healthcare costs,” the report notes. “BCBS is partnering with Moody’s Analytics to forecast how the health of millennials will impact the future economy, with results highlighted in an upcoming BCBS Health of America report.”
The data gathered in the report was used through insights gathered from a database of about 55 million commercially insured millennials, ages 21-36. The report gives a score based on a scale of 0 to 100, in which the score closest to 100 is optimal health.