BCBSA, Moody’s Analytics cite deteriorating millennial health and future economic consequences

November 08, 2019
2019 Health of America Forum Millenial Health A Call to Action_201911081706
By Regence

The health of millennials is nearing a state of crisis.

Health care professionals, providers and employers gathered this week to discuss the generation’s health after a Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Health of America Report earlier this year showed that they are less healthy than their GenX counterparts were at the same age.

Hosted by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), Wednesday’s Health of American Forum on Millennial Health in Philadelphia also coincided with the release of a new Moody’s Analytics report that shows significant economic repercussions from the adverse health trend.

The BCBSA millennial health report, based on an analysis of member claims data available through Blue Cross Blue Shield health plans nationwide, cited a significant increase in 10 major health conditions, like type 2 diabetes, depression and hypertension.

Adverse health of millennials carries economic consequences

The BCBSA/Moody’s report found that millennials’ poor health could post significant consequences to the economy given that millennials, defined as those born between 1981 and 1996, now make up the largest share of the U.S. population and labor force.

The Millenial Labor Force Moodys Analytics_201911081709

Constructing a 10-year forecast of millennial health, Moody’s found that:

  • Without intervention, millennials could see mortality rates climb more than 40% compared to Gen X.
  • Millennial treatment costs are projected to be as much as 33% higher than what Gen-Xers experienced at a comparable age.
  • Poorer health could cost millennials more than $4,500 per year in per-capita income.

Addressing millennial health starts with conversations

The forum brought together a variety of experts – from health care providers and employers, to millennials themselves – to discuss the broader impacts of adverse health and potential solutions to address the trend.  

Highlights included:

  • Millennial athlete and Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn spoke to how countless ski injuries humanized her and the positivity that comes with being open about physical and mental health.
  • Kim Leer of Inlay Insights explored how violence, the rise of social technology and the housing crisis were all formative in the development of this generation and its tendencies.
  • Representatives from Quicken Loans and the NBA explored wellbeing as an employer’s currency and millennials’ demand for authenticity from their employers’ leadership.
  • University of Pennsylvania Health System’s CEO discussed innovations that are allowing providers to integrate physical and behavioral health, as the two are inextricably linked.

A call to action for health care providers

Addressing the health of millennials starts with understanding how they respond to care.

Regence conducted a survey of millennial-aged members found that this generation is more likely to delay care: 57% said that they would go to the doctor only if they were very sick. Many opt to seek alternatives to traditional care, with 77% likely to self-treat and 42% likely to take no action.

Millennials want access to personalized, optimized care that is quick and convenient. They want unbiased care from empathetic doctors and more transparency around health care costs and treatment options. This generation believes that the mind and body are interconnected, and they want treatment that addresses both physical and mental health: whole-person care.

Innovative solutions in care can help improve the health of millennials

Regence is committed to improving the health of all our members, millennials included.

Telehealth, which can be used for both primary care and behavioral health services, offers convenient care from a phone or computer. For Regence members, mental health tops the list of telehealth use cases – nearly double that of coughs and influenza – for those under the age of 18.

Regence also is investing in virtual services that increase members’ access to behavioral health services, offer direct, digital access to nurses and physicians, and offer prescription price and treatment transparency through MedSavvy.

We will continue to report on the state of millennial health and how we’re supporting the health of this generation in the coming months.

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