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Dr. Rob Roswell from the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell in New York is pictured with Cari Champion from ESPN during the conference on millennial health. Champion served as the conference emcee.

— Photo Submitted by Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross (Independence) recently hosted the 2019 Health of America Forum, Millennial Health: A Call to Action, in partnership with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA).

Independence and BCBSA convened business leaders and employers, physical and behavioral health providers, millennials and others at the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts to discuss improving the health of millennials.

Forum speakers elaborated on the provider and patient relationship, discussed innovative care models for integrating behavioral and physical healthcare, and shared forward-thinking solutions that increase healthcare access and engagement in the workplace.

According to a recent Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Health of America Report, millennials are facing significant health issues at an earlier age than in previous generations and are setting new expectations for how they engage with the healthcare system. The millennial health forum served as a platform to discuss the issues at hand and take the next steps toward finding solutions.

“Millennials are poised to make up the largest share of the U.S. population and workforce, making it imperative to understand and address the health challenges of this generation,” Daniel J. Hilferty, CEO of Independence Blue Cross said in a news release.

“In light of the Health of America report, it became clear to us that the health care industry needs to proactively address the barriers millennials face when obtaining care and work toward identifying meaningful solutions. We are proud to work with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and to start this conversation with key national thought leaders here in Philadelphia.”

In conjunction with the forum, a Moody’s Analytics report analyzing Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index data had key findings including:

Millennials are seeing their health decline faster than the previous generation as they age. This extends to both physical health conditions, such as hypertension and high cholesterol, and behavioral health conditions, such as major depression and hyperactivity. Without intervention, millennials could feasibly see mortality rates climb more than 40 percent compared to Gen-Xers at the same age.

Poorer health among millennials will keep them from contributing as much to the economy as they otherwise would, manifesting itself through higher unemployment and slower income growth. Under the most adverse set of projections, lower levels of health alone could cost millennials more than $4,500 per year in real per-capita income compared to similarly aged Gen-Xers.

Hilferty stated that the Millennial Health Forum will serve as a catalyst for improving the health and well-being of millennials.

“We have arrived at an inflection point,” he said. “Now we have to shift from listening to action.”

Hilferty also announced some of the next steps that Independence will take, including partnering with the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia to issue a citywide challenge to civic innovators in communities across Philadelphia to surface promising ideas for addressing millennial mental health; launching a community awareness campaign focused on promoting mental health wellness and developing toolkits for providers, employers and members to address the millennial health challenge.

Tribune Staff Report

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