The health of millennials

Nearly 73 million people in the U.S. are millennials – people born between 1981 and 1996. In a recent study, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index examined the health of the 55 million commercially insured millennials. The BCBS Health Index quantifies more than 200 different health conditions to identify which diseases and conditions most affect Americans’ longevity and quality of life. It’s powered by annual data from more than 41 million BCBS members who are commercially insured Americans. The study revealed the top health conditions that are impacting millennials, as well as a troubling trend in the overall health of millennials compared to the generation before them.

Health conditions impacting millennials

The BCBS Health Index data indicated the top 10 health conditions that impact millennials. These conditions are ranked by the adverse health impact of the condition, also known as the reduction in future healthy years due to the presence of the condition. When compared to the national population, millennials were more affected by behavioral health conditions.

  1. Major depression
  2. Substance abuse disorder
  3. Alcohol use disorder
  4. Hypertension
  5. Hyperactivity
  6. Psychotic conditions
  7. Crohn’s disease/Ulcerative colitis
  8. High cholesterol
  9. Tobacco use disorder
  10. Type 2 diabetes

Additionally, the total adverse health for millennial women is 20% larger than for men. The gap is mainly driven by major depression, Type 2 diabetes and other endocrine conditions. The BCBS Health Index assigns U.S. populations a score between 0 and 100. A score of “100” represents optimal health. The higher the score, the closer a population is to achieving optimal health. The lower the score, the more a population has been adversely impacted by certain health conditions. In Kansas, millennial health ranks as 95.0, with major depression, alcohol use disorder and hypertension ranking as the conditions with the highest impact on millennial health.

For a detailed look at millennial health by Kansas counties or in other states, visit the BCBS Health Index website.

Millennials are less healthy than Generation X members were at the same age

In an effort to understand how the health of millennials differed from those of previous generations, the BCBS Health Index compared like age groups of Gen Xers who were ages 34-36 in 2014 with millennials who were ages 34-36 in 2017.

Four aggregate condition groups were created to better understand and compare the health conditions between the two generations: behavioral health, cardiovascular, endocrine and other physical conditions. The comparison found that millennials had 11% more total adverse health across these conditions than Gen Xers had at the same age. The increase was driven by the fact that millennials had a 21% increase in cardiovascular conditions, and a 15% increase in endocrine conditions, including diabetes.

With the millennial generation about to become the largest living adult generation, it’s important to examine the generation’s long-term health and wellness and how their health can impact workplace productivity and healthcare costs.

Sources: Blue Cross Blue Shield Health of America report

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