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Millennials – What Happened to the Wellness Generation?

According to recently published research by Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index, 1 in 3 millennials have a health condition that reduces their quality of life and their life expectancy and 44% report having a chronic health condition. Interestingly, 80% say that they are in excellent or good health when polled. What happened to the “wellness” generation that we have heard so much about and how will it impact future healthcare/insurance costs for Americans as a whole?

What happened?

Screen time and associated mental health issues, easy food delivery, lower income and net worth as compared to prior generations at the same point in their lives have resulted in the least healthy generation in history. 7:10 are on track to be obese as they hit middle age and mortality rates are on track to be 40% higher than Gen X’ers at the same age without significant intervention.

How will this impact future healthcare/insurance costs for the system as a whole?

If unchecked, millennial healthcare costs are on track to be more than 30% higher than previous generations at the same age and this cost will be born by the entire system. We already spend more of our GDP on healthcare than other developed nations (18 vs. 12 or so). How much more can we take?

What can be done to reverse this trend?

These facts demand action in two ways:

1. Intervention with millennials to educate them on making healthier decisions:

  • Reduced screen time for better mental health and less stress
  • Limiting fast food intake for better health
  • Convenience of delivery can contribute to obesity
  • Avoiding highly processed groceries 
  • Financial wellness to reduce stress

2. It is time to demand more transparency in the way that we pay for healthcare in America to make a free market possible:

  • With the rise of chronic conditions that account for 75% of our healthcare spending is it feasible to continue to pay significantly more than other developed nations for the same prescription drugs?
  • Is it unreasonable to expect that facilities and providers charge a published price for the service they perform and that they compete with their peers for business?
  • If free market forces make it possible to access elective procedures that are both high quality and low cost (consider cosmetic procedures, Lasik etc.) why not for the rest of healthcare?
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