Early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s are affecting younger adults, new Blue Cross Blue Shield Association study shows

By Regence
February 27, 2020

Diagnosis rates rose sharply from 2013 to 2017, according to new data from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) this week.

Alzheimer’s and early onset dementia diagnosis rates have increased at an alarming rate, particularly for Americans age 30 to 64, according to a new Health of America report released by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) this week.

The report pulled data from the BCBS Health Index—a database of medical claims from more than 48 million commercially insured members of Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies—and compared diagnosis rates of early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s disease between 2013 and 2017.

Most strikingly, the number of Americans age 30 to 44 diagnosed with these memory-affecting diseases increased by 373% during this time period.

Additional findings from the report include:

  • These conditions are more common in women, who represent 58% of those diagnosed
  • The average age of a person living with either form of dementia is 49
  • Western states, including Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Utah, hold some of the lowest diagnosis rates in the country – around 5 per 10,000 people – which is 2x lower than diagnosis rates found in the South and Midwest

“The implications that these alarming diagnoses rates will have on the younger generation, which currently makes up the largest percentage of our workforce, are far-reaching,” said Regence’s Senior Executive Medical Director Dr. Drew Oliveira. “As advancements are made in treatment protocols, we must also consider the increasing demand the growth of this disease puts on caregivers.”

Supporting a growing cohort of caregivers

Earlier this month, a study conducted by Cambia Health Solutions* found that nearly 100 million Americans are providing some kind of care for a loved one. According to the study, 36 percent of caregivers are between the ages of 18 to 34 and over 50 percent carry the additional responsibility of full or part-time employment.

Through our Personalized Care Support, we are helping to reduce the burden on caregivers. Serving members across our four-state footprint—Washington, Idaho, Utah and Oregon—this program provides reimbursement for advanced care planning, home health care, psycho-social support and personalized case management from nurses who specialize in palliative care. These services are available to caregivers, too, whether they’re Regence members, or not; there is no increase in member premium and no enrollment necessary. Members are encouraged to review their benefits and learn more about the program.

Read our press release to learn more about the BCBSA’s Health of America report on early-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. You can learn more about the BCBS Health Index here.

*Regence regional health plans are part of Cambia Health Solutions’ family of companies.