Aflac-Commissioned Survey Reveals Financial Worries - Even Bankruptcy - Caused
by Health Care Costs
COLUMBUS, Ga., Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- One in three Americans (32 percent)
say they are concerned that they will someday need to declare bankruptcy due
to unexpected medical bills, according to a recent survey commissioned by
Aflac, the number one provider of guaranteed-renewable insurance in the United
States. Additionally, the survey found that nearly all Americans (89 percent)
say the rising cost of health care is among the most pressing concerns facing
Americans today. The nationwide survey randomly polled 2,091 Americans age 18
and older in September 2006.
Aflac's survey revealed that increasing health care costs in the United
States have a significant impact on Americans' everyday lives, forcing many
people to delay medical care or tap into their savings to pay expenses.
"There is a direct correlation between the continuous increase of health
care costs and financial anxiety," said Paul Amos, executive vice president
and COO, Aflac. "It is important for Americans to educate themselves on the
various health care and insurance options available and to create a financial
safety net to help with the protection of their physical and financial well-
being, and that of their families for the long term."
Increasing costs in health care are forcing many Americans to go without
care. The number of Americans with major medical insurance has decreased
compared to one year ago, dropping from 81 percent in 2005 to 74 percent in
2006. And the perils of being uninsured are apparent. Three-quarters (74
percent) of survey respondents without any type of medical insurance report
that they have considered not going to the doctor because of the costs they
may incur, while only 37 percent of those with medical insurance reported
The threat of financial strain and even bankruptcy due to medical costs is
a legitimate concern for many Americans. A 2001 Harvard study found that
illness and medical bills caused half of the 1,458,000 personal bankruptcies
in 2001 and estimates that medical bankruptcies affect about 2 million
Americans each year. Alarmingly, the American Bankruptcy Institute states that
three-fourths of the people who file for bankruptcy because of medical debts
have health insurance when the medical problem begins.
- 82 percent of respondents believe that many Americans will need to dip
into their savings to cover health care costs.
- Eight in ten (80 percent) believe that growing medical and health care
expenses will make retirement living less comfortable in the future.
- 37 percent of respondents in the Baby Boomer generation are concerned
that they will someday need to declare bankruptcy due to unexpected
medical bills, compared to 29 percent of Gen Y, 33 percent of Gen X, and
25 percent of Post-War generation respondents.
Although Americans seem to know the steps they should take to prepare for
an unexpected medical emergency, few actually follow the advice, causing a gap
between belief and actual behavior.
- 83 percent of respondents agree that all Americans should put aside
money specifically to cover future health care expenses.
- Fewer than four in ten (37 percent) respondents have actually put aside
money specifically to cover future health care expenses.
- Nearly half (46 percent) report that they only could cover up to three
months of living expenses if they were not receiving a paycheck.
The majority (85 percent) of respondents acknowledged that in addition to
caring for their spouses and children, more Americans will have to deal with
the financial strain of caring for elderly parents. As the sandwich
generation (those sandwiched between caring for aging parents, adult children,
and/or grandchildren) grows, apprehension about this strain is understandable.
"Individuals caring for both aging and young generations face many
daunting scenarios, such as caring for a spouse or partner, an aging parent, a
sick child, or in the most difficult situations, more than one at once," said
Amos. "Proper medical coverage, financial savings and Aflac insurance can help
provide a financial cushion."
According to the Aflac survey, one in three (33 percent) of Americans have
used vacation time to care for a family member and more than a quarter (28
percent) have lost wages because they stayed home to care for a sick child or
- Two-thirds (67 percent) of those with children under 18 at home have
missed work to take care of them.
- One-quarter (26 percent) of Americans have missed work to care for an
For more than 50 years, Aflac products have given policyholders the
opportunity to direct cash where it is needed most when a life-interrupting
medical event causes financial challenges. Aflac is the number one provider of
guaranteed-renewable insurance in the United States and the number one
insurance company in terms of individual insurance policies in force in Japan.
Aflac's insurance products provide protection to more than 40 million people
worldwide. Aflac has been included in Fortune magazine's listing of America's
Most Admired Companies for six consecutive years and Forbes magazine's
Platinum 400 List of America's Best Big Companies for five consecutive years.
In January 2006, Aflac was included in Fortune magazine's list of the 100 Best
Companies to Work For in America for the eighth consecutive year. Aflac was
also included in Fortune magazine's list of the Top 50 Employers for
Minorities in August 2005, and in September 2005, Aflac Japan was named the
Life Insurance Company of the Year at the Asia Insurance Industry Awards,
sponsored by the Asia Insurance Review. 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.
SOURCE Aflac Incorporated