January 1, 2018

March of the Millennials

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 83.1 million millennials make up 25% of the population, and they now officially outnumber baby boomers. By 2020, they are expected to make up half the workforce, and as they shift claims demographics it is important to study how they will impact workers’ compensation.

First and foremost, millennials are more culturally diverse than previous generations. In 2014, 44.2% of millennials were classified as minorities, and 50.2% of children under five were of a minority race. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2024, 43% of the workforce will be composed of minority workers.

What does this mean for comp? Differences in ethnicity and socioeconomic background often present different health concerns, and these differences could play a bigger role in future claims.

For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Latino populations are 50% more likely to die from diabetes or liver disease, and 24% more likely to have poorly controlled blood pressure when compared to white populations, but they are 49% less likely to develop cancer. Meanwhile, African American populations are more likely to experience high blood pressure, stroke, or diabetes.

Considering that workers’ comp claims with a comorbid diagnosis nearly tripled from 2000 to 2009, and that claims with comorbidities can have twice the medical cost of other claims, it will be important to understand patient diversity in order to better manage care.

Beyond diversity, it’s no secret that millennials are highly technology-oriented. When it comes to their healthcare, one study found that 60% of millennials support the use of telehealth options to eliminate in-person visits, while 73% were interested in sharing data with mobile devices during visits. This acceptance of technology could improve patient engagement as millennials stay connected and up to date with various apps, programs, and reminders.

One other point of note is that millennials are more likely to experience psychosocial issues. A study that measured symptoms of anxiety and depression from generation to generation, going back from 1938 to 2007, found that each generation faces worse symptoms than the previous generation.

Some speculate that a combination of changing family units, related to higher divorce rates and the delaying of marriage, have reduced helpful psychosocial support systems, while the economic upheaval of the recession, having created a record high youth unemployment rate that lowered wages for young people, has increased stress levels for millennials.

However, one caveat to their higher levels of psychosocial symptoms is that culturally speaking, society may be more open to the discussion of mental illness than before. Patients may feel more free to seek help when needed, which could be beneficial to a claim when compared to previous generations who may have reacted negatively to addressing mental illness.

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