Press Releases

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Highmark Blue Shield and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association address key health conditions impacting millennials

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Study finds millennials are less healthy than Generation X were at the same age

CAMP HILL, Pa. (June 25, 2019) — Nearly 73 million people in the U.S. are millennials — people who were born between 1981 and 1996 — and they are the second largest generation among commercially insured Americans.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), The Health of America Report® series, “The Health of Millennials,” examined the BCBS Health IndexSM, a database of de-identified medical claims from more than 41 million commercially insured members of BCBS companies, and found a third of millennials have health conditions that reduce their quality of life and life expectancy

"Based on these findings, we're seeing that millennials are not seeking preventative care and it's not only having an effect on their immediate health, but will significantly impact their long-term health as well," said Vincent Nelson, MD, vice president, Medical Affairs for Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA). "With millennials on track to become the largest generation in the near future, it's critical that they're taking their health maintenance seriously. Our plan is to address this issue now to ensure millennials, and all Americans, take a proactive role in maintaining their health and wellbeing."

To discuss the findings of the report and key health issues facing the millennial generation, Highmark Blue Shield and BCBSA brought dozens of local millennials together in Camp Hill for a seminar and workshop on June 25.

"We feel that it is important for millennials to learn more about the health issues facing their generation, especially when the evidence shows that their health is at greater risk compared to previous generations," said Dr. Charles DeShazer, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Highmark.

At the seminar, key findings of the BCBSA report were presented, including:

  • Millennials in the Harrisburg region are less healthy than the national average, and their health index declined from 2014 to 2017
  • Average health begins to decline at age 27
  • 60 percent of conditions impacting millennials are behavioral health, such as major depression, psychotic disorders, substance use disorder, etc.
  • Millennial women are 20 percent less healthy than their male counterparts
  • Only 68 percent of millennials have a primary care physician, compared to 91 percent of Gen Xers, limiting opportunities for early diagnosis

Attendees also broke out for workshops to discuss the findings and ways millennials can improve their health. The feedback from the workshops will be shared with BCBSA and presented at a forum on millennial health to be held later this year.

"As a medical doctor, I'm very concerned about these findings," added Dr. DeShazer. "Throughout most of our history in the U.S., each generation has been healthier than the last. However, the trends are showing that millennials will be less healthy than their predecessors. We must work together to address the health issues facing millennials and reverse these trends. This forum is a good first step in that direction."

About Highmark Blue Shield

Highmark Inc., doing business as Highmark Blue Shield, serves approximately 1.2 million members through the company's health care benefits business and hundreds of thousands of additional individuals through the BlueCard® program. Highmark Blue Shield has significant commercial market share and strong Medicare Advantage membership [through certain of its affiliated Blue companies] as well. Through its affiliated Blue companies, all of Highmark's Medicare Advantage plans in Pennsylvania received a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services quality rating of 4.5 out of 5.0 stars. Highmark Blue Shield employs approximately 3,500 people in central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley, serving as a key economic driver in the region. Highmark Blue Shield's total economic impact throughout central Pennsylvania is more than $978 million. Highmark Blue Shield is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information, visit

About the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Health Index quantifies over 200 different health conditions to identify which diseases and conditions most affect Americans' longevity and quality of life. It is powered by annual data from more than 41 million BCBS members, commercially insured Americans. BCBS companies are committed to improving Americans' health by providing data-driven insights to policymakers, community leaders, healthcare professional and business leaders. The BCBS Health Index informs national and local discussions about how to improve U.S. health, health policy and healthcare practice.

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 and follow us on Twitter.

For more information, contact:
Leilyn Perri
Highmark Health