Major Chronic Health Issues Predict Elevated Mortality Rates for Millennials

“Millennials are suffering from chronic health issues at greater rates than previous generations,” says a new report prepared by Moody’s for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBS). It identifies the top five health concerns – behavioral health conditions (such as depression, substance abuse and hyperactivity), hypertension, high cholesterol, tobacco use and hyperactivity – and calls upon policymakers and healthcare providers “to address declining health among younger Americans before the more severe consequences in this analysis become reality.”

As part of the The Economic Consequences of Millennial Health, Moody’s analyzed data from BCBS to create 10-year forecasts for millennial health. According to these projections, “Millennials are seeing their health decline faster than the previous generation as they age. Without intervention, millennials could feasibly see mortality rates climb up by more than 40% compared to Gen-Xers at the same age.” This includes millennials’ higher prevalence of hypertension and high cholesterol, which “suggests that even more difficult health issues await millennials as these conditions run their course during the normal aging process.”

In addition to the impact of these chronic health issues on overall health and mortality, the Moody’s analysis describes the burden they could have on the healthcare system: “We can see real overall costs of care soar over the next decade.” More specifically, the report projects “greater demand for treatment and higher healthcare costs in the years ahead. Under the most adverse scenario, millennial treatment costs are projected to be as much as 33% higher than Gen-Xers experienced at a comparable age.”

In an analysis of the study, Emily Heuser, senior consultant for the Advisory Board’s Market Innovation Center, says the findings translate to the following four key considerations for providers caring for millennials:

  • Millennials are cost-sensitive and financially risk-adverse. A study conducted by Advisory Board, 10 Insights from the Primary Care Consumer Choice Survey, found that this “generation values affordability and convenience most when selecting a care site for non-emergent conditions.” Physicians are advised to offer “visits with lower-cost advanced practitioners, innovative pricing models, [and] clearly posted prices.”
  • Millennials are technologically-savvy. Heuser notes that this generation is tech-reliant and suggests that physicians “consider offering virtual visits, incorporating wearable sensors into care and developing apps to personalize care plans.”
  • Millennials value convenience and simplicity. Advisory Board research also indicates that millennials value convenience in all aspects of life, including healthcare. Providers are encouraged to incorporate amenities, such as online scheduling, extended hours of access and bundled care options, into their practice.
  • Millennials are social and willing to share opinions. Heuser writes that, because the majority of millennials are influenced by physician reviews, doctors should consider posting “their own patient satisfaction scores to manage the balance of positive and negative reviews.”

Click here to access the full BCBS report.