Rise in Poor Millennial Health may Have Severe Long-Term Economic Consequences

A new report by Moody’s Analytics revealed the serious impact millennials’ health could have on the U.S. economy. Compared to when Generation X was the same age, millennials are projected to experience slower economic growth and pay more in health care costs over the next decade, which could have a crippling effect on the economy, according to the study, The Economic Consequences of Millennial Health.

The study developed two different scenarios of millennial health and what the impact may be over the next decade. If millennial health continues to decline and goes unaddressed over the next 10 years, the report predicts that in comparison to Gen Xers at the same age, millennials may experience:

  • Health care treatment costs could rise as much as 33 percent.
  • Mortality rates could rise as much as 40 percent.
  • Millennials’ annual income may, on average, be reduced by as much as $4,500 per person, as poor health will likely lead to job loss or reduced working hours.

Moody’s Analytics analyzed the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health IndexSM, which quantifies more than 300 health conditions to identify which may affect Americans’ longevity and quality of life. It’s powered by annual data from more than 41 million commercially insured Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) members nationwide.

“Over the past year, we met with millennials, health care providers, employers and community leaders across the country in 14 cities to learn more about what we can do to improve health care for millennials,” said Maureen Sullivan, chief strategy and innovation officer for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA). “This generation places a high value on personalized care, which treats both the mind and the body in a holistic manner, and they are challenging all of us – employers, providers, health plans – to meet their unique needs and put them on a path towards better health.”

“Millennials are the largest, most educated, and most connected generation ever,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics. “But they also have serious health issues that if not addressed will have serious long-term consequences for their well-being and the performance of the U.S. economy.”

This analysis is a follow up to the BCBSA report, The Health of Millennials, part of the Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Health of America Report® series, which found that compared to Gen Xers, millennials are more likely to experience major depression, hyperactivity and type II diabetes, among other behavioral and physical conditions. The report looked at millennials who were between the ages of 34 and 36 in 2017 and Gen Xers who were 34 to 36 in 2014.

Additionally, a recent BCBSA survey found that many millennials are not seeking preventative care, which can be a contributing cause of adverse health. For instance, 67 percent of millennials only see a doctor when they are sick or in urgent need of care, and almost one-third do not have a primary care physician.

This study is being released in conjunction with the National Health of America Forum, Millennial Health: A Call to Action, which will debut the Moody’s Analytics report findings, highlight ways to enhance millennials relationships with providers, discuss how to increase health care access and engagement in the workplace, and more. The forum, happening today, November 6, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, builds on the millennial health listening sessions BCBS companies have been conducting across the country this year. These sessions were held to hear from millennials, health care professionals, employers and others in order to better understand what’s driving poor millennial health and what can be done to improve it.

A millennial is someone who was born between 1981 and 1996, and there are nearly 73 million millennials in the U.S. right now – the largest contributors to the U.S. labor market, comprising more than 35 percent of all workers and rising. Gen Xers were born between 1965 and 1980.