Aflac study reveals many U.S. workers are unprepared to handle financial consequences of unexpected health issues
COLUMBUS, Ga., April 4, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ --The 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report revealed six out of ten workers (62 percent) think it's not very or not at all likely they or a family member will be diagnosed with a serious illness like cancer, and more than half (55 percent) said they were not very or not at all likely to be diagnosed with a chronic illness, such as heart disease or diabetes. These key findings are from a national study released today analyzing forces impacting the trends, attitudes, and use of employee benefits. The 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report is an online survey of nearly 1,900 benefits decision-makers and more than 6,100 U.S. workers, conducted in January and February 2012 by Research Now and released by Aflac, the No. 1 provider of supplemental and guaranteed-renewable insurance in the United States.
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Americans may be overly optimistic when it comes to thinking they won't ever be diagnosed with a serious illness or experience an accident. According to the American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts & Figures 2012, one in three women and one in two men will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, and the National Safety Council, Injury Facts 2011 edition, says that more than 38.9 million medically consulted injuries occur in a year. The American Heart Association, Heart Disease & Stroke Statistics 2012, show that one in six deaths in the U.S. was caused by coronary heart disease.
"The fact that American workers aren't aware of their medical risks and the potential financial impact of those risks is a very real concern that is only compounded when workers don't take full advantage of available benefits options or adjust their savings strategies to be more prepared," said Audrey Boone Tillman, executive vice president of Corporate Services at Aflac. "Now, more than ever, people need to understand that well-being means more than just good health--it's being prepared for the reality of whatever life may bring and taking the necessary measures to protect themselves and their families."
Despite optimism about their physical health, the study reveals that American workers also are concerned about their financial health, and many admit they are unprepared to handle the financial consequences of a serious illness or accident in their family.
The 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report found that:
- Half of American workers (51 percent) are trying to reduce debt.
- Nearly six in ten (58 percent) don't even have a financial plan to handle the unexpected.
- Only eight percent of U.S. workers strongly agree their family will be financially prepared in the event of an unexpected emergency.
- Twenty-eight percent have less than $500 (51 percent have less than $1,000) in savings for emergency expenses.
When asked how they would pay for out-of-pocket expenses due to an unexpected illness, more than half (57 percent) of respondents said they would have to tap into savings, 30 percent would use a credit card and 19 percent--nearly one out of five people--would have to withdraw funds from their 401k plans to cover the costs.
"Most individuals are looking to their employers to educate them about all available benefits options, not just traditional benefits changes or choices, to better understand how they can have a more secure safety net," said Tillman. "It's critical for employers to effectively communicate year-round about how new benefit options, like voluntary insurance, can help with high out-of-pocket expenses associated with a serious illness or accident."
The 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report also found 60 percent of workers would be at least somewhat likely to purchase voluntary health insurance plans if offered by their employer. Voluntary insurance policies such as critical illness, short-term disability, accident, and more are among benefits options that can help protect the well-being and financial security of individuals and their families.
To see the 2012 study results and learn more about how people can better protect themselves and their families against the unknown, visit AflacWorkForcesReport.com.
The Aflac WorkForces Report is an annual employee benefits study examining the forces impacting the trends, attitudes, and utilization of employee benefits. Surveying both American workers and business decision-makers, the Aflac WorkForces Report reconciles the perceptions and realities of benefits in the workplace. The insights aim to help businesses make informed decisions about benefits to better protect their employees and their bottom line.
The 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report was conducted by Research Now on behalf of Aflac. The research contained two components of research among the U.S. workforce--employer research and employee research.
The Employer Survey was conducted online within the United States between January 24, 2012, and February 7, 2012, among 1,876 benefits decision-makers. Results were representative of U.S. companies with at least three employees based on company size (number of employees) and industry. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.
The Employee Survey was conducted online within the United States between February 7, 2012, and February 23, 2012, among 6,151 employed adults ages 18 and older who are employed full or part time at a company with three or more employees and not retired. The first 3,151 interviews were nationally representative while the remaining 3,000 interviews were conducted among the Top 30 designated market areas (DMAs)--100 interviews per DMA. Results were weighted as needed for household income. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.
About Research Now
Research Now is the leading global online sampling and online data collection company. With over six million panelists in 38 countries worldwide, Research Now enables companies to listen to and interact with real consumers and business decision-makers to help them make key business decisions. Research Now offers a full suite of data collection services, including social media sampling, and operates the Valued Opinions(TM) Panel and e-Rewards® Opinion Panels. The company has a multilingual staff located in 24 offices around the globe and has been recognized for four consecutive years as the industry leader in client satisfaction. For more information, please visit researchnow.com.
When a policyholder gets sick or hurt, Aflac pays cash benefits fast. For more than 55 years, Aflac insurance policies have helped provide a safety net and give policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress. In the United States, Aflac is the number one provider of guaranteed-renewable insurance. In Japan, Aflac is the number one life insurance company in terms of individual policies in force. Aflac insurance products provide protection to more than 50 million people worldwide. For six consecutive years, Aflac has been recognized by Ethisphere magazine as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies and by Forbes magazine as one of America's Best-Managed Companies in the Insurance category. In 2012, Fortune magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for the 14th consecutive year. Also, Fortune magazine included Aflac on its list of Most Admired Companies for the 11th time in 2012. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To find out more about Aflac, visit aflac.com or aflacenespanol.com.
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