The millennial generation is less healthy than those who came before and the difference, it seems, is driven by mental illness, substance abuse disorders, and endocrine-related conditions (like diabetes).
According to a report released on Wednesday, by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, some millennials have a higher prevalence for almost every single one of the top 10 health conditions than members of Generation X. For the study, researchers focused on people between the ages of 21 to 36 in 2017, analyzing the insurance claims of 55 million millennials. Determining the health index of the population, a score of 100 represents optimal health across the board with conditions that negatively impact quality life or lifespan bringing the score down.
While most millennials report being relatively healthy, the report made a somewhat shocking discovery. Those in their mid-30s, in particular, appear to be at great risk for nearly a dozen leading health issues in the United States. The top ten health conditions affecting millennials today include, in order of proliferation: major depression (31%), hyperactivity (29%), other endocrine conditions (22%), hypertension/high blood pressure (16%), psychotic conditions (15%), type-II diabetes (12%), substance use disorder (10%), Crohn’s disease/ulcerative colitis (10%), tobacco use disorder (7%), alcohol use disorder (1%).
Diluting from this data, then, we can see that the millennials face much higher potential health care costs than previous generations, despite being of pretty good health. More importantly, Independence Blue Cross chief medical officer Richard Snyder comments this can significantly affect personal health, cost of health care, work efficacy; and all could start taking its toll on a person as early as the age of 27.
In fact, Snyder goes so far as to advise, “It doesn’t suddenly happen at age 50 or 60. These things start earlier you’re not living a healthy lifestyle or are genetically predisposed.”
Obviously, then, there is a growing need in the medical industry to more effectively identify mental illness in order to treat it. And treating it, of course, means we need not only more medications and alternative methods, but also more psychiatrists who can diagnose and counsel those who may be suffering. As Snyder says, “we need to reengineer the health-care delivery system to take care of these patients with a small supply of specialists.”
For example, a report reveals that only about 68 percent of millennials have a primary care provider, which is significantly lower than the 91 percent of Generation X.