Millennials on track to die faster than Gen X, thanks to mental health

They’re seeing their physical and mental health decline at a faster rate than Gen X did as they age, a new Blue Cross Blue Shield report found.

The report used a baseline projection representing historical outcomes of “health shocks” and an adverse projection of current trends. It’s possible this decline could be rectified with proper management and treatment, but without intervention, millennials could see a 40% increase in mortality compared with Gen Xers of the same age, the adverse projection showed.

In this scenario, millennials could end up shelling out a third more in treatment costs than Gen Xers of the same age, because of a greater need for treatment and rising healthcare costs.

Healthcare is one of four key costs plaguing millennials. In 1960, the average annual cost of healthcare per person was $146 — in 2016, it hit $10,345. When adjusted for inflation, that’s a ninefold increase. Costs are expected to further increase to $14,944 in 2023.

Poorer health could also make millennials less likely to participate in the US labor market, resulting in higher unemployment and a loss of annual income by more than $4,500 per person, the Blue Cross report said.

The report attributed this millennial health decline to both physical conditions, such as hypertension and high cholesterol, and behavioral health — particularly rises in rates of depression, hyperactivity (such as anxiety or ADHD), and substance abuse.

Rises in depression and ‘deaths of despair’

The report found that rates of depression and hyperactivity among American millennials increased by about 30% from 2014 to 2017.

These findings are underscored by previous reports that analyzed data from Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Health Index. One found that major-depression diagnoses were rising at a faster rate for millennials and teens than they were for any other age group.

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