COLUMBUS, Ga., April 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Aflac Incorporated, a leader in supplemental insurance at U.S. worksites, today announced it has contributed $5 million to two organizations that are providing assistance for health care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 global pandemic. The $5 million donation includes:
$2 million for the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI), a comprehensive innovation center using innovative 3D printing to help support medical device shortages, particularly as it relates to ventilators and protective masks. GCMI works in collaboration with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Pediatric Technology Center.
$3 million for Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid organization providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and essential medical items to health workers responding to the coronavirus. Direct Relief is active in all 50 states.
"Whether you have been directly impacted or are witnessing the global pandemic through the media, one thing is very clear: Americans are coming together to address this problem in ways we have not seen in a very long time," Aflac Incorporated Chairman and CEO Dan Amos said. "At Aflac, our mission is to be there for our policyholders in their time of need and provide value for our shareholders. In our minds, there is no better way to accomplish both of these goals than to help fill significant needs in a crisis and by delivering for our customers with more urgency than ever before."
"Direct Relief is deeply grateful to Aflac for its generosity and significant commitment in this challenging time," said Thomas Tighe, Direct Relief president and CEO. "As cases continue to grow, private industry has an extraordinary ability to collaborate for the public good, and Aflac is leading through its actions."
"GCMI is the bridge connecting clinicians to help translate ideas through development and scaling solutions rapidly, where it can have broad impact on healthcare worker safety and patient care," GCMI's CEO, Tiffany Wilson said. "This funding helps get the relief needed to the frontline by accelerating innovation and collaboration."
"The Global Center for Medical Innovation and the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Pediatric Technology Center are at the foundation of our collaborative, nationwide effort to provide an innovative solution to the PPE shortage crisis," said Dr. Joanna Newton MD, M.Sc., attending physician, pediatric hematology and oncology, Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta; senior clinical advisor, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Pediatric Technology Center. "This generous gift from Aflac allows us to rapidly scale production to immediately increase the supply of PPE across the country."
In addition to the $5 million in donations, Aflac has addressed the needs of a variety of groups through other measures, including policyholders, employees, 1099 independent agents who sell Aflac products, and the local communities where Aflac and Aflac Group Insurance are headquartered.
Support for policyholders
Aflac is encouraging policyholders who are displaying COVID-19 symptoms to seek treatment and is paying wellness benefits on applicable policies for COVID-19 tests, when completed claims are submitted. Additionally, the company's hospital indemnity plans offer benefits for policyholders treated in temporary facilities authorized by a qualifying hospital for treatment, when a charge is incurred. Policyholders who are unable to pay their premiums have been granted premium payment grace periods. The company is generally treating telemedicine visits the same way it would an in-person visit to a health care provider. To communicate these initiatives, Aflac created a COVID-19-related consumer Frequently Asked Questions site at Aflac.com to provide speedy responses to policyholders' questions about their policies. The company also created a special COVID-19-related small-business microsite to assist employers during this time of need. Policyholders can also take advantage of enhanced technologies for submitting claims by using Aflac SmartClaim® via our online system at www.aflac.com or by downloading the MyAflac Mobile App.
Support for Aflac employees
In mid-February, Aflac enacted travel restrictions and initiated a work-from-home program. Currently, approximately 98% of its U.S. workforce is working from their homes. Also, in March, the company announced its plan to amend employee benefits to address COVID-19 concerns, including providing up to an additional 30 days of pandemic leave for employees who experience symptoms consistent with, or who are diagnosed with, COVID-19. This leave can also be used for those with day care and other challenges associated with ripple effects of the virus. All Aflac employees and their dependents who are covered under the company-sponsored major medical policy will receive a waiver of their copays when using telemedicine to receive a consultation for symptoms related to COVID-19. The company is covering 100% of the costs for COVID-19 tests.
Aflac also pays for certain important supplemental benefits for its employees that contain hospitalization benefits and a once-per-year annual wellness benefit when seeking medical treatment. Aflac is encouraging all employees to take advantage of this benefit.
Support for 1099 independent agents licensed to sell Aflac products
During this difficult time, Aflac is providing no-interest loans within IRS guidelines to support 1099 independent sales agents licensed to sell Aflac products. The company has also converted sales incentive awards, including annual meetings, into cash awards for agents who qualify.
Support for communities
In addition to the $5 million contribution, Aflac provided donations to local organizations, including $100,000 to the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley in Columbus, Georgia, working in conjunction with the United Way of Chattahoochee Valley, to help with COVID-19 relief efforts. The company made a $50,000 contribution to the United Way of the Midlands COVID-19 Response Fund in Columbia, South Carolina, for their efforts to combat the coronavirus.
"These unprecedented times are when Aflac shines, because we are truly a company that cares about our customers, shareholders, employees and communities. We will get through this crisis together with a renewed spirit of strength and community across the nation," said Aflac U.S. President Teresa L. White.
About Aflac Incorporated
Aflac Incorporated (NYSE: AFL) is a Fortune 500 company, helping provide protection to more than 50 million people through its subsidiaries in Japan and the U.S., where it is a leading supplemental insurer by paying cash fast when policyholders get sick or injured. For more than six decades, insurance policies of Aflac Incorporated's subsidiaries have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress. Aflac Life Insurance Japan is the leading provider of medical and cancer insurance in Japan where it insures 1 in 4 households. For 14 consecutive years, Aflac Incorporated has been recognized by Ethisphere as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies. In 2020, Fortune included Aflac Incorporated on its list of World's Most Admired Companies for the 19th time, and Bloomberg added Aflac Incorporated to its Gender-Equality Index, which tracks the financial performance of public companies committed to supporting gender equality through policy development, representation and transparency. To find out how to get help with expenses health insurance doesn't cover, get to know us at aflac.com or aflac.com/espanol.
About Global Center for Medical Innovation
The Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI) is the Southeast's first and only comprehensive medical device innovation center, dedicated to accelerating development, building businesses and improving health. GCMI opened its doors in April 2012 and to date has worked with over 50 different startups, clinician innovators, university tech transfer offices and academic researchers to design, engineer, prototype and facilitate commercialization of a broad range of innovative medical devices.
About Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Pediatric Technology Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology
The Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Pediatric Technology Center is part of the Georgia Institute of Technology. The center facilitates collaboration between Children's Healthcare of Atlanta clinicians, doctors, and researchers conducting fundamental and translational research to advance children's health and delivery of pediatric services in a broad range of research areas.
About Direct Relief
A humanitarian organization committed to improving the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies, Direct Relief delivers lifesaving medical resources throughout the world to communities in need—without regard to politics, religion, or ability to pay. For more information, please visit https://www.DirectRelief.org.
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