A third of millennials suffer from health conditions that reduce their quality of life and life expectancy, according to a new study of medical claims by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA).  

The report found that millennials–those born between the years of 1981 and 1996–had substantially higher diagnoses for eight of the top 10 health conditions than Generation X members did at the same age. Based on their current health status, millennials are also more likely to be less healthy later in life compared to their Gen X counterparts.

The BCBS Health Index found that between 2014-2017, the prevalence rate for the top 10 conditions affecting millennials increased–in many cases, by double digits. When compared to the national population, millennials were most impacted by behavioral health conditions such as depression, hyperactivity and substance use disorder, as well as physical health conditions such as Type II diabetes and hypertension. Most significantly, the prevalence of major depression among the millennial population–which makes up the second-largest generation among commercially insured Americans–increased 31%.

Across Regence’s four-state footprint, health index rates were on par with the national average, with behavioral health conditions posing the highest risk.

“Debt, a constant connection to technology and societal pressures are all possible contributors to stress spikes in the millennial generation,” said Dr. Drew Olivera, an Executive Medical Director for Regence health plans. “Unfortunately, we’re beginning to see these manifest in a host of physical and behavioral conditions at an alarming rate that can have adverse, immediate and long-term health effects.”

Regence works to address millennial health through an integrated and accessible approach that includes behavioral health. The health plan provides telehealth services that allow members to access treatment when, where and how they need it, in addition to wellness and other programs and tools that help address behavioral and physical health conditions.  

A recent Blue Cross Blue Shield Association survey also found that 68% of millennials have a primary care physician, compared to 90% of Generation X, which is an important factor in preventative care.

“Based on these findings, we’re seeing that millennials are not seeking preventative care, and it’s not only having an effect on their immediate health, but will significantly impact their long-term health as well,” said Dr. Vincent Nelson, vice president, Medical Affairs for BCBSA.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Health of America Report® series, “The Health of Millennials,” examined the BCBS Health Index, a database of de-identified medical claims from more than 41 million commercially insured members of Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies.

About Regence
Regence serves approximately 2.6 million members through Regence BlueShield of Idaho, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah and Regence BlueShield (select counties in Washington). Each health plan is a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Regence is part of a family of companies dedicated to transforming health care by delivering innovative products and services that change the way consumers nationwide experience health care. For more information, please visit regence.com.

About the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index
Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Health Index quantifies over 200 different health conditions to identify which diseases and conditions most affect Americans' longevity and quality of life.  It is powered by annual data from more than 41 million BCBS members, commercially insured Americans. BCBS companies are committed to improving Americans' health by providing data-driven insights to policymakers, community leaders, healthcare professional and business leaders. The BCBS Health Index informs national and local discussions about how to improve U.S. health, health policy and healthcare practice. 

About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans. BCBSA provides health care insights through The Health of America Report series and the national BCBS Health Index. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit bcbs.com. We also encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out our blog.