This article was last updated on Oct. 7, 2020.
Millennials, millennials, millennials.
It may seem as if they're everywhere (probably because there are 73 million of them External Site), and it’s all anyone can talk about. From news coverage, memes, and dinner-table talk — this generation has been tossed around, analyzed and judged in more ways than one — and quite frequently.
Feeling skeptical? Do a quick Google search and you’ll be flooded with numerous articles on how millennials are ruining everything from the housing market to the doorbell and fabric softener industry (because why not), and are lonely and entitled to boot.
But, do any of us (millennials included!) really know who they are? Let’s get started with the basics.
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Who are millennials?
The million-dollar question. Pew Research External Site defines millennials as those born between the years 1981 and 1996. Even with exposure to higher education and technological savviness at an earlier age, you might be surprised that nothing about millennials makes them significantly different than other generations. Like you, they want to climb the career ladder, get married, buy a home, and start a family. The only difference? It may not happen in the order — or as early as — society expects.
Consider these additional need-to-knows about the millennial generation.
A look into the millennial generation through the six elements of well-being:
Millennials have high hopes for their careers:
- Highly confident and ambitious, millennials have high expectations for themselves and aren't afraid to seek out challenges, take risks or question authority.
Millennials are impacted by debt and stagnant salaries:
- Significantly less wealthy than prior generations due to lack of assets and stagnant salaries — not to mention, have an average of $30,000 in student loan debt External Site.
Many millennials are impacted by behavioral health:
- Experience higher rates of behavioral health conditions (e.g. depression and anxiety). Much of this increase stems from constantly comparing themselves to their peers through social media, childhood trauma or pressure to succeed and find validation in everything.
Community is important to the millennial generation:
- Happier living in cities rather than suburbs — despite higher cost of living. They have a sense of pride in the community wherever they choose to reside.
Millennials delay some significant life milestones:
- Get married later in life (the average millennial woman is 28, man is 30), have children later and spend their social time on travel or experiences with others.
Many millennials are dealing with health issues earlier in life:
- See an increased risk in hypertension and high cholesterol — which don't cost a lot to treat initially, but continue to grow more expensive over time or develop into more serious conditions.
What you really need to know: The millennial health epidemic
Spoiler alert: Their health isn’t great.
If you’re a millennial yourself, or are a parent, grandparent or coworker to a millennial, you know many in this generation are obsessed with boutique fitness places, green juice cleanses or even making a side hustle out of sharing workouts and clean-eating recipes on their social media feeds. After all, they're contributing to the $4.2 trillion dollar External Site health and wellness industry. Yes, trillion.
But, the numbers don’t lie. Millennials are increasingly unhealthy — and at an earlier age than other generations. According to the Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® Association Health of America Report® External Site, millennials begin to see a major decline in their health once they hit age 27. Not to mention, six of the top 10 conditions affecting millennials are behavioral — impacting their mental and emotional well-being (e.g. major depression, hyperactivity, and substance abuse).
Taking a closer look at the health of millennials
- Major depression, hyperactivity and Type 2 diabetes had the largest growth prevalence from 2014-2017.
- 68 percent have a primary care provider, compared to 91 percent of Generation X.
- One in three millennials have a health condition that affects their quality of life.
The impact of COVID-19 on millennials
Every generation has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in one way or another. However, in early April 2020, 60 percent of millennial-registered voters told pollsters at Quinnipiac University that the pandemic has them concerned about being unable to afford External Site food, rent or mortgage, and medical expenses. And, 61 percent of millennials said they've lost their job External Site or had their hours or earnings reduced as a result of the pandemic. This uncertainty and stress of living during a pandemic has lead to negative physical and emotional effects, like substance abuse, burnout and social isolation.
Why should I care about millennials?
It’s simple. With millennials soon to outnumber the largest adult population in America — the baby boomers — their declining health could raise the cost of health care for everyone. Not to mention, their poor health can be detrimental to the future of the economy External Site.
If you are considered a millennial or know any millennials in your life, consider these articles to help them make small steps to change.
- Live healthier with a personal doctor. Only 68 percent of millennials have a personal doctor, also known as a primary care provider (PCP). PCPs play a key role in preventive care, which means millennials could be missing out on annual check-ins to discuss symptoms, get age-appropriate screenings, develop treatment plans and more.
- Know where to get care. Millennials are twice as likely as other generations to act on non-urgent health advice found online External Site. Instead of raising non-urgent health concerns with their doctor, millennials tend to wait until it is urgent — which can lead to a costly bill at urgent care.
- Knowing what you owe: How to read an EOB. This generation has legally had the option to stay on their parent’s health insurance until 26 — which means navigating the health insurance industry can cause some confusion. According to a recent survey conducted through PNC Healthcare, millennials are most likely to forgo health care because of expense and unpredictability.
- Virtual visits make feeling better easy. Millennials love technology and easy-to-use platforms, which is why according to the American Wells’ 2019 Consumer Survey, 66 percent of millennials want an option to use virtual visits over in-person visits.
It’s time to make a change for a healthier future — together
It starts with each of us to have the conversation with friends, family, children or peers about the health issues affecting the millennial generation. What can you, and others close to you, do to reverse this trend?
Check back often for the most up-to-date information to help the millennial generation live healthier and navigate the health care system.