Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Study Finds Nearly One-Third of Millennials are Affected by Behavioral Health Conditions

92% of millennials also said COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their mental health

CHICAGO – New findings from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) found that nearly one third of Millennials have a behavioral health condition, with significant increases in the prevalence of conditions like major depression (43%), ADHD (39%) and substance use disorder (SUD) (17%) since 2014. The findings come from a new BCBSA report, “Millennial Health Trends in Behavioral Conditions," part of the Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Health of America Report® series. The report analyzed a data sample of 55 million commercially insured Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) members who belong to the millennial age group, defined as people ages 22-37 in 2018, based on the definition developed by Pew Research Center, and provides an update to the initial report on the Health of Millennials published last year.

Millennials with behavioral health conditions are at nearly two-times the risk of having chronic physical conditions such as:

  • Hypertension (1.9X)
  • Crohn’s disease/ulcerative colitis (1.9X)
  • Type II diabetes (2.1X)
  • Coronary artery disease (2.7X)

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a larger negative health impact on the millennial age group compared to their Baby Boomer peers. According to a recent BCBSA survey, 92% percent of millennials said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health, compared to 70% among Baby Boomers. Additionally, 80% of millennials believe that their mental health impacts their physical health, compared to 62% of Baby Boomers.

To help support millennials, BCBS companies continue to develop and support localized solutions that address both physical and behavioral health conditions. Examples include:

  • Providing access to virtual care including digital wellness platforms that target and address the unique health needs of millennials
  • Increasing the availability of both medication-assisted and therapy-based treatments for members with opioid use disorder (OUD)
  • Launching new initiatives to reduce the stigma around behavioral health while making care more accessible and affordable
  • Using voice-enabled technology features to provide tech-savvy millennials with a fresh new way to easily access important health care services

SUD has the third highest impact on millennials’ health, just behind major depression and hypertension. Millennials who have an opioid use OUD diagnosis are also disproportionately impacted, as they are 46% less healthy than their millennial peers. That said, millennials are seeking out treatment at higher rates than their peers with nearly two thirds of those diagnosed with OUD receiving treatment in 2018, compared to less than a third of Baby Boomers with an OUD diagnosis.

“This new data paints a clearer picture of the stark behavioral and physical health challenges that many millennials live with every day,” said Vincent Nelson, chief medical officer at BCBSA. “As a company and as a health care industry at large, it is vital that we continue to provide millennials with the personalized care solutions and support system they need to live healthy lives, for the better health of America.”

In an effort to continue to address and learn more about the unique physical and mental health challenges facing both millennials and those in the caregiving community, BCBSA will host a two-day virtual forum on October 28 and 29, 2020. The virtual event features a variety of health and industry experts that will share new details and insights into how the healthcare industry can better support and address the unique health needs of both groups.

This is the 34th study of the Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Health of America Report® series, a collaboration between BCBSA and Blue Health Intelligence (BHI), which uses a market-leading claims database to uncover key trends and insights in healthcare affordability and access to care.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 35 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.