Millennials are seeking more professional help for health issues than ever, a new study revealed.
Conducted by United Healthcare and Health Action Council, the study explored factors and claims data from policyholders ages 27 to 42 — a total of 126,000 individuals. It compared current data from April 2021 through March 2022 to historical data dating back to 2012. The findings were presented in the groups’ sixth annual white paper.
Millennials with common chronic medical conditions and their children are “high utilizers” of the health care system compared to Generation X, the research found.
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This includes 106% more hospital admissions for millennials with diabetes and 55% more emergency room (ER) and urgent care (UC) visits for hypertension.
Even though obesity rates for millennials are lower, there have been 31% more ER and UC visits and 29% more hospital admissions for those with obesity.
Millennials with back disorders have visited the ER and UC 22% more than Gen X, with 46% higher hospital admissions.
There have been 36% higher ER and UC visits for millennials with osteoarthritis.
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Behavioral health use is up 35% for millennials and their children compared to pre-pandemic levels.
This includes anxiety, depression and trauma disorders, which make up 66% of behavioral diagnoses for the generation.
In 2019, 31% of PTSD diagnoses were given to millennials. In 2022, that number increased to 38%.
Additionally, millennials and their children account for 41% of neurodevelopment disorder claims, according to the study.
The most common diagnoses include attention deficit disorder (ADD) at 43% and autism spectrum disorders at 35%.
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As health care costs continue to rise, the top clinical cost driver for millennials is pregnancy.
These costs increase with complications such as fertility treatment, high-risk pregnancies, multiple births, C-section deliveries and extended hospital stays.
Millennial parents with Generation Alpha kids have a 38% higher health care utilization rate than those born in other generations.
This includes 22% higher ER visits, 9% higher UC visits and 76% higher outpatient surgeries.
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Millennial parents of Gen Alpha kids also scheduled virtual health care visits a whopping 543% more than other generations.
Expert says millennials are ‘breaking stigmas’
Dr. Mykale Elbe, director of the MSN Nurse Practitioner Program and assistant professor of nursing at Maryville University in Town and Country, Missouri, told Online News 72h Digital that she’s “not surprised by these findings.” She was not involved with the study.
Behavioral health utilization is up 35% for millennials and their children compared to pre-pandemic levels.
In terms of mental health, Elbe pointed out that millennials and younger generations are “breaking down the stigma,” which is leading to more symptom awareness and sought-after help from health care providers.
“Since the pandemic, health care providers in all settings have seen a surge in patients having mental health disorders and seeking help,” she said.
She added that she hopes “this surge will decrease as we move toward the post-pandemic period, but that has yet to be seen.”
Elbe attributed the rise in health care utilization to the recent arrival of accessible medical facilities, such as urgent care, in the last decade.
“This makes health care available at the public’s fingertips for anything from a sore throat and lacerations to more serious concerns,” she said.
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“With the pandemic and [with] everyone being on heightened alert for any upper respiratory symptoms, we continue to see a surge of health care utilization for minor disorders, as we have now trained the public that if you have a cough, you need to be tested for COVID,” Elbe added.
In her experience of working in pediatrics, Elbe said she’s seen more parents bringing in their kids for viral upper respiratory infections than pre-pandemic.
“We have now trained the public that if you have a cough, you need to be tested for COVID.”
“With new health care formats being available with urgent care and convenient care clinics, we see patients utilizing health care and being more proactive in seeking care on a regular basis,” she said.
Elbe expressed shock at the major increase in diabetes hospital admissions, though it does match up with other millennial health care utilizations.
“While their cost for diabetes care is higher, the control of their diabetes is better than older populations,” she said. “That does make sense, as they are younger, generally healthier and more active than their older counterparts with diabetes.”
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Overall, Elbe said she’s concerned about the amount of health care utilization and cost among millennials, as well as the issue surrounding provider shortages.
“With this shortage, we are seeing longer wait times for patients to be seen by health care providers,” she said.