Millennials' 'troubling' health habits could have alarming effect on US economy

'The impacts could be game-changing for the U.S.,' study finds

Troubling health habits among millennials could have alarming consequences for the U.S. economy, according to a new study released this month.

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Millennials, who now account for the largest share of the U.S. population and labor force, are seeing their health — including physical and behavioral health conditions — decline faster than the previous generation as they age, according to a report published by Moody's Analytics, based on data from Blue Cross Blue Shield.

As a result, millennials, or individuals born between 1981 and 1996, will likely see more expensive health care costs in the year ahead. If the trend continues at the current rate, millennial treatment costs are still projected to be close to $4,500 annually, roughly 33 percent higher than those of Generation X at a comparable age, by 2027. That's about $375 per month.

In fact, analysts found that millennials' poor health could have serious ramifications on the broader U.S. economy, too: It could result in higher unemployment and slower income growth, likely affecting areas that are already struggling economically while potentially exacerbating instances of income inequality.

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"These findings should serve as a call to action among policymakers and the healthcare community at large to address declining health among younger Americans before the more severe consequences in this analysis become reality," the study concluded. "If nothing is done, the impacts could be game-changing for the U.S. and its economy."

Millennials in areas of the country that are already struggling to grow economically tend to have worse levels of other health, relative to other people their age, according to the report.

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According to a study published at the beginning of October, about half of millennials and 75 percent of Gen Zers have quit their jobs for mental health reasons.

For the report, Moody's used a millennial health study that BCBSA published in April, which looked at health insurance claims from millennials through 2017. At the time, the millennials were 21 to 36 years old. Researchers also conducted listening sessions with millennials around the country to learn about the health issues they faced.

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