Millennials are suffering from chronic health issues at greater rates than previous generations, which could have a significant impact on their economic potential and health spending in the future, according to a new report from Moody's the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
The report found that the prevalence of certain chronic conditions has increased significantly since 2014 among millennials.
According to the report, behavioral health may be "key to the millennial health shock." The researchers noted that 5% of millennials had major depression in 2017, up 31% from 3.8% in 2014.
Millennials also are seeing higher rates of accidents and suicides than Gen Xers, defined as those born between 1965 and 1980, did when they were the same age.
In addition, the report found that millennials in 2016 had roughly $36,000 less in total assets, $5,000 more in total debt, and $41,000 less in net worth than Gen Xers did in 2001.
As a result of these health trends, the researchers estimated that the oldest millennials could lose more than $4,500 in real per-capita income compared with Gen Xers of a similar age.
Overall, the report noted that, without intervention, death rates among millennials could increase by more than 40% compared with similarly aged Gen Xers.
Why millennials' health is getting worse
Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics who prepared the report using Blue Cross Blue Shield data, said the declining health of millennials could be related to the fact that a large portion of millennials entered the workforce in the throes of an economic crisis.
Zandi also said that student debt, the opioid epidemic, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could also play a role in millennials' health.
"To address this brewing crisis," Zandi said, "it's going to take action not only from the perspective of the economy but also from the perspective of health care" (Blue Cross Blue Shield Association report, 11/5; Blue Cross Blue Shield Association release, 11/5; Court, Bloomberg, 11/6).