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Blue Cross Blue Shield Association study finds nearly one-third of millennials are affected by behavioral health conditions

By October 15, 2020February 9th, 2021BCBSA News Featured
Black mom with curly hair sits at her laptop with baby on her lap. Text reads: Nearly 1/3 of Millennials are affected by behavioral health conditions

Blue plan members in the Philadelphia region had higher rates of alcohol and tobacco use disorders compared with national averages

Philadelphia – October 15, 2020 –  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 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 developing chronic physical conditions such as:

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

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.

A May 11, 2020 BCBSA report on behavioral health showed that certain negative behaviors — including alcohol consumption, smoking, vaping and nonmedical drug use — have risen since the pandemic began. Additional data from this latest report reveals that Blue plan members in the Philadelphia region had higher rates of alcohol and tobacco use disorders compared with national averages: 12% compared to 5% and 19% compared with 10%, respectively.

“This report underscores how critical mental and physical health challenges have become for millennials. These are very concerning trends for what will soon be the largest generation in the workforce. “We’re looking closely at how to reverse this alarming trend and provide millennials with the resources and support they need to live healthy and longer lives,” said Dr. Richard Snyder, chief medical officer and executive vice president at Independence Blue Cross (Independence).

Independence is helping members with anxiety and stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic by offering telemedicine coverage for physical health and behavioral health, online cognitive behavior therapy modules, and stress reduction and improved sleep modules on Achieve Well-Being. Independence also offers a comprehensive COVID-19 Preparedness Tool developed by Quil, a digital health venture of Independence and Comcast.

SUD has the third highest impact on millennials’ health, just behind major depression and hypertension. Millennials who have an Opioid Use Disorder (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.

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.

All company names and brands are the property of their respective owners and used for identification purposes only and are in no way associated or affiliated with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Use of these names and brands does not imply endorsement.

About Independence Blue Cross
Independence Blue Cross is the leading health insurance organization in southeastern Pennsylvania. With our affiliates, we serve 8 million people nationwide. For more than 80 years, we have been enhancing the health and well-being of the people and communities we serve. We deliver innovative and competitively priced health care products and services; pioneer new ways to reward doctors, hospitals, and other health care professionals for coordinated, quality care; and support programs and events that promote wellness. To learn more, visit Connect with us on Facebook at and on Twitter at @ibx. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans. BCBSA provides health care insights through The Health of America Report series and the national BCBS Health Indexsm. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit We also encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube or follow us on Twitter.


Media Contact:
Grant Gegwich
610-909-3937 (cell)