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Aflac is committed to helping close the health and wealth gap for the underserved and overlooked. For more than 65 years, Aflac has been helping policyholders with expenses health insurance doesn’t cover, allowing people to focus more on recovery, not their finances. In 2022, Aflac took this a step further through several initiatives aimed at educating, supporting and advocating for those currently suffering from or highly exposed to medical debt.
Aflac teamed up with South Carolina women's basketball head coach Dawn Staley for a My Special Aflac Duck® delivery to patients at UVA Children's in Charlottesville, Virginia. My Special Aflac Duck is a social robot that provides comfort and joy for children with cancer and sickle cell disease, and the delivery is part of Aflac's 28-year, $168-plus million philanthropic commitment to helping support children with cancer and blood disorders. It came following the release of "Dawn's List" this past March, which was created by Aflac in collaboration with Coach Staley to help address some of the equity issues in women's college sports, including investment equity, fan experience and community engagement.
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Based on a nationwide study, Aflac developed the Aflac Care Index, which looked to identify U.S. states that over-indexed, or ranked highly, for vulnerability to medical debt. The Care Index revealed 46% of Americans don’t have enough in savings to pay for medical expenses not covered by their health insurance.
The Index's finding fueled the creation of the Community CareGrants and Individual CareGrants Programs, which offers funding that can help close the medical debt gap for vulnerable communities and individuals.†
Click on the map’s ducks to see some of our Community CareGrant stories.
Aflac CareGrants help close the gap created by uncovered medical expenses and help address the urgent needs of those living in under-resourced communities across the U.S. CareGrants are awarded to individual recipients as well as community organizations that work to improve medical outcomes for people with high exposure to medical debt. Last year, Aflac gave away $1 million in Community and Individual CareGrants with another $1 million in contributions planned for 2023.†Review CareGrant Individual Contest Rules.
Rockbridge Area Health Center was awarded a $100,000 Aflac Community CareGrant to reduce the risk of medical debt exposure and help fund school-based wellness education and multidisciplinary programs in Lexington, Virginia. An Aflac Park Bench was installed in Kids Playce Park, a symbol of the Lexington-Rockbridge community, which features picnic tables and water fountains.
Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) received a $100,000 Aflac Community CareGrant to help reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in Harlan County, Kentucky. The grant was used to help ARH expand its educational outreach program, as well as purchase cardiovascular screening supplies and equipment, mannequins for use in community CPR education, and Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) for the community’s emergency management personnel. An Aflac Park Bench was installed in Dressen Park, a central public space used by many Harlan residents for rest and relaxation.
Aflac awarded a $100,000 CareGrant to Good Samaritan Clinic in Columbia, South Carolina, to help the organization develop a healthcare e-portal to reduce patients’ barriers to care, expand its point of care capacity, enable new hires and fund resources to help existing staff build and maintain patient relationships. An Aflac Park Bench was installed in Riverfront Park at the entrance to the beloved Columbia Canal and its many outdoor walking paths.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Libby’s Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation received a $100,000 Aflac Community CareGrant to increase access to breast health services, such as diagnostic testing (mammograms) and biopsies for underserved and underinsured individuals in Orlando, Florida. An Aflac Park Bench was installed on the grounds of the organization, where patients and survivors can go to relax and reflect.
Aflac awarded its first $200,000 Community CareGrant to Texas Southern University’s (TSU) Center for Biomedical and Minority Health Research to help advance health equity for diseases that disproportionately impact underrepresented communities. The grant was split between community support, education and health-related research. An Aflac Park Bench was installed in the heart of TSU’s campus, where TSU students, faculty, staff and supporters can find peace and comfort for years to come.
Community HealthNet received a $100,000 Aflac Community CareGrant to help develop a community farm, provide oral health services for the uninsured, purchase life-saving vaccines and medications for underserved populations, and hire new staff to build and maintain patient relationships. An Aflac Park Bench was installed in Lake Etta County Park, a 112-acre park with access to the Little Calumet River, as well as playgrounds, fishing, and a beach area for swimming.
West Virginia Health Right received a $100,000 Aflac Community CareGrant to advance grassroots initiatives such as purchasing medication for low-income adults in the area, purchasing medical supplies and consumables, and offsetting salaries for the organization’s part-time in-house registered dietician and RN health educator. An Aflac Park bench was installed in Magic Island Park, a five-acre riverside park that is cherished by the local community and offers a walking trail, beach volleyball courts and a splash pad.
When you think of turning 21, do you ever think about self-breast exams or breast cancer? Lashandra Covington didn’t. But in 2002, at the age of 21, she was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. Lashandra had just given birth to her second child and breast cancer was the last thing on her mind. A year later, Lashandra was told she was cancer free. Unfortunately, seven years later her cancer came back, and more procedures ensued. Then, in April 2021, Lashandra was diagnosed with colon cancer. Throughout this journey, Lashandra didn’t have insurance, so most things were out-of- pocket, or she avoided the doctor all together. Then, Lashandra saw an ad for Aflac’s CareGrant – the $5,000 not only helped with her latest procedure but helped Lashandra get back on track and take a relaxing breathe for a moment.
John and Allison Shadock were married only a short time before he was diagnosed with glioblastoma at only 35 years old. The diagnosis changed the young couple’s life instantly. Allison and John and their two dogs had to relocate to be closer to John’s doctor which involved leaving jobs, undergoing astronomically expensive cancer treatments, MRIs and never-ending travel expenses. If this wasn’t enough, John had a fall a year ago that forced the Shadock family to seek round-the-clock care. They also have had to lean even more on family and friends for support. Their motto is "strong all along" and the $5,000 CareGrant they received from Aflac was extremely useful in helping keep the family on their feet so that the Shadocks could continually focus on John’s care, not their finances.
One slip of paper can change the course of your life. That’s exactly what happened to Mateo Magdaleno. Mateo found himself in a place he never imagined – battling type II diabetes and drowning in medical debt. The diabetes began a ripple effect of other health problems including cognitive issues and higher cholesterol and the debt began to pile on. As Mateo says, “I thought having health insurance by itself would be enough, but the treatments that I needed were not covered and I was exceeding all my days off. It came to the point where I was choosing between groceries and paying for the medication that I needed to live.” Then, a friend forwarded Mateo an ad for an Aflac CareGrant and despite looking too good to be true, Mateo applied and later received funds he needed to help him focus on his recovery for the time being.
I've always heard that cancer changes you, but I've never heard how it changes everything for your loved ones too. In 2014, my mother was diagnosed with stage 3a metastatic breast cancer. My dad was an independent contractor, earning six figures a year. He exhausted almost every cent to help her fight the disease.
Six months after she was given her last treatment, my dad felt ill with a stomach ache. We were convinced he had an ulcer. Twelve hours later, he emerged from the ER with a stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis. My mother, who was still healing from a mastectomy, spent what little they had left to keep my dad comfortable.
Their six-figure income household was reduced to just $17.00 a month in food assistance and a mountain of credit card debt incurred by medical needs.
My dad passed away less than six months later. My mother spent every waking day for almost 5 years not only grieving his loss, but dealing with constant reminders of their medical debt.
In October 2021, my mother passed away. I was left to deal with their debts while grieving the loss of two parents. Debt from the medical bills has a lien on the one thing I have left of my parents. Their home. As a single mom, this $5,000 has helped me avoid going further into debt as I try to salvage what l have left of them.