One-third of millennials have a health condition that will lower their life expectancy and quality of life, according to a recent study from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index.
For the study, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and Blue Health Intelligence used a claims database to analyze the data of 55 million commercially insured millennial Americans, with "millennials" defined as those born between 1981 and 1996.
To determine how the health of millennials compares to that of prior generations, the researchers also zoomed in on a subset of older millennials, who were ages 34 to 36 in 2017. They compared the health of that subset of millennials to a group of Generation Xers who were between the ages of 34 and 36 in 2014.
The researchers identified the top 10 major health conditions affecting millennials, which include:
In all, about one-third of millennials had one of these conditions, which according to a Blue Cross Blue Shield Association press release "could reduce their quality of life and life expectancy."
Further, compared to Generation Xers at the same age, the subset of older millennials had a significantly higher incidence of eight of the top 10 health conditions:
This means, according to the release, that "based on their current health status, millennials are more likely to be less healthy when they're older, compared to Gen Xers."
The researchers also found that prevalence of the top 10 health conditions have all increased among millennials since 2014, with eight of the top 10 conditions seeing double-digit percentage increases in their prevalence.
This finding is consistent, the researchers found, with data from the broader BCBS Health Index, which indicates that a major decline in overall health begins at age 27 on average.
The BCBS Health Index rates health on a 0 to 100 scale, and according to the researchers, millennials' average score of 95.1 means that "millennials as a group were living at about 95% of their optimal health."
The researchers also looked at state-by-state differences in millennials' health. The researchers found that millennials living in southern states, especially Alabama, Louisiana, and West Virginia, were among the least healthy. By contrast, those living in western states, namely Arizona, California, Colorado, and Nevada, were among the healthiest.
Emily Heuser, Senior Consultant, Market Innovation Center
While many news reports may overhype the differences between millennials and older Americans, this report indicates that there are, in fact, meaningful differences in the health and health care preferences of the millennial generation. With the youngest among them just out of college, and the oldest shopping for pediatricians for their own children, millennials' health care consumption and preferences are varied. However, they tend to coalesce around several defining characteristics. Understanding their needs and demands is prerequisite to winning this generation's business.
Here are four defining characteristics—and what they mean for providers:
To learn more about how what patients of all ages want from their care—and how you can become their provider of choice—download our infographic detailing How Consumers' Health Care Preferences Vary by Age.
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