Wisdom of MY Words

Random Musings & Book Reviews

09 July

Health Studies and How It Affects Everyone

The Hartford Courant ran an article about an 1800 person study commissioned by Aetna Life & Casualty and they claim that my children are less healthy my Gen-X generation, or my parents the Baby Boomers.


UPDATE on this gloomy day in August 2013: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/08/05/aetna-withdraws-connecticut-health-exchange/2619695/

The nuts and bolts of the study asked people ages 25-64 (which would include me, but exclude my mother) which generation they believe is the healthiest. 45% said their own generation! Laughable! My own mother, 68, doesn’t exercise. She doesn’t take walks, unless it’s in a mall to get to a sale. She’s retired. She does less walking now than she did when she worked fulltime. Then, 32% said it was their parents’ generation; which would be me saying the Baby Boomers are healthier than us Gen-Xers, and lastly, 23% said it was the Millennials. Considering a lot of Millennials are pretty young (like my own three: 22, 18 and 13), and are either in school or working they have nothing better to do than drink, and exercise. Pretty much the same thing I was doing at their age!

Since Aetna is trying to sell people health insurance, the study didn’t include any one of Medicare age, because well, they can’t sell anything but Medi-Gap to them. The bad thing is that Millennial’s were described as people between 25-36; which is ludicrous! Anyone born before 1980 should not be a Millennial: Gen Y comes right after Gen-X, and that term was popularized by Douglas Coupland’s 1991 novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. It was supposed to include people born in the early 60s to the early 80s, and that works with the 1982 date that Generation Y was given when Ad Age coined the term in an 1993 op-ed article.

Twice as many Boomers than either Gen-X or Millennials defined “being healthy” as getting recommended medical screenings and checkups. There is a reason for this, once job security is a thing of the past, health care costs soar, and intelligent people decide that seeing a doctor and being charged $800-1500 for the blood work done at a physical is unimportant, it means they care where their money is spent, not that they are unhealthy!

An even better arbiter of being healthy, eating well, is more important on a day-to-day basis, but only 12% of Baby Boomers agree, with 14% of Gen-Xers and 24% of Gen-Y. That’s because we fed our kids more veg and fruit than our parents EVER fed us!

Another good measurement of being healthy is regular exercise (get your 10,00 steps in a day people!) but only 12% of Boomers, 14% of Gen-Xers and 22% of Millennials think so, and actually voted that way.

Lastly, 37% of Millennials, 23% Gen-Xers, and 16% Boomers said they reach for alcohol when stressed, and far worse is that 51% of Millennials, 48% of Gen-X and 36% of Baby Boomers said they reach for junk food when tense.

How Aetna reads this study is going to affect how they price policies for health insurance. Overwhelmingly it looks to me like Gen-Y is healthier, but if they consider that alcohol statistic along with the snacks then it isn’t going to be the adage of: the older you are the more you pay for insurance, it will be everyone affected by a rise in premiums because of a study of only 1800 people.

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