At 73 million strong, millennials (born 1981-1996) are the largest generation in our population and workforce. They also are unhealthier, for their age, than previous generations. But there’s great news! Many of the illnesses that affect millennial health the most can be readily addressed – or even cured – if action is taken early.
Two reports (“The Health of Millennials” and “The Economic Consequences of Millennial Health”) published in 2019 by the national Blue Cross Blue Shield Association examine millennial health, how it is different from other generations, and how it can be improved.
The reports reveal millennials are dealing with a different mix of health problems than prior generations. For instance, millennials are much more likely than their Generation X counterparts (born 1965-1980) to experience major depression, hyperactivity and type 2 diabetes.
And of the top 10 conditions affecting millennials, six involve behavioral health and substance use.
Changing the forecast
The health outlook for millennials can be brighter if they and those who care about them act now. Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield is here to help.“The good news for millennials is that the conditions that affect them most can be prevented or treated,” said Curtis Barnett, president and chief executive officer for Arkansas Blue Cross. “But while science can play a role, millennials can do a great deal to enjoy better health. For instance, 67% of millennials say they only go to the doctor when they are very ill, and nearly 40% of them don’t have a primary care physician. Just changing those numbers could help a lot.”
A better future
The conditions most affecting millennials can be addressed with a few simple principles:
- Your personal habits. Your health is mostly defined by what you do … or don’t do: Eating a balanced diet. Getting regular physical activity. Not smoking. Limiting alcohol. Good sleep habits. Managing your stress. Avoiding risky behavior. Drinking enough water. These basic “dos” and “don’ts” can prevent or minimize conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, lung health, cancer and even behavioral health issues like depression. Many of these are on the millennial top 10 list.
And eligible Arkansas Blue Cross members have access to free programs that focus on:
- Quitting smoking
- Weight management
- Heart health (including congestive heart failure)
- Low-back pain
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Asthma management
- Healthy pregnancy
If you have complex or chronic health conditions, Arkansas Blue Cross case managers and social workers can help connect you with the care and services you need.
Who to call
To find out what programs and services may be available to help you reach your health goals, just call the customer service number of the back of your member ID card.
- Your personal support. Emotional/behavioral health can be a big factor in physical health. The ways we cope with life’s stresses can take many forms – some of which are unhealthy. Here are a couple of ways we can help:
- Substance use member hotline: 877-326-2458. If you or a loved one have a substance use concern, licensed clinicians are available 24/7 to assess potential treatment needs, give you treatment options and connect you with care.
- Emotional/behavioral health helpline: 877-801-1159. You can speak with a healthcare adviser about your mental health benefits. They can help you find the appropriate care, learn about your condition(s) and get coaching and support via case management.
- Your personal doctor. In fact, you need a primary care physician (PCP) as a medical home base that you use when you’re well and when you’re sick. This doctor:
- Has the full picture of your health and life
- Advises you about lifestyle choices
- Develops care plans
- Gets specialists involved as needed
- Helps you get resources and services you need
- Makes sure everyone involved in your care has the information they need
Generally, primary care physicians can help head off health issues before they start or catch them early and hook you up with whatever help you need.
And if you’ve tried to manage a health concern on your own and failed, your PCP can help you decide what to do next (medicine, therapy, surgery, etc.).
If you need help finding a doctor, just call customer service (check your ID card).
So if you are a millennial (or if someone you care about is), you can use these simple tips to change your/their health for the better – and maybe the health of an entire generation.