National statistics claim that 75 percent of U.S. adults have gambled in the past year,1 but what if games of chance aren’t confined to poker tables, slot machines or sports? Findings from the 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report reveal that many are wagering a bet they might not be ready to lose on – their health. Analysis of the workforce results, from 5,209 US employees, finds three important observations:
• Individuals are overly optimistic about their likelihood of having an accident or being diagnosed with an illness.
• There appears to be a relationship between those wary to seek medical treatment and income.
• Few are making healthier choices, which could be affecting their professional performance.
1. Individuals underestimate their families’ chance of injury and illness: Compared to injury and illness statistics, employees are overly optimistic when it comes to believing they or a family member will experience an accident or illness. Perceptions may play a key role in their likelihood to take precautionary steps to protect their health, such as purchasing insurance products and/or having a financial plan. Over half, 56 percent, say they do not have a financial plan in place and 66 percent say they wouldn’t be able to adjust to the large financial costs associated with a serious illness or injury.
2. They’re wary of going to the doctor - income and savings may play a role: Nearly 7 in 10 (69 percent) employees at least somewhat agree they don’t like going to the doctor and 53 percent agree they’ve put off a medical procedure longer than they should. What’s more, individuals with lower incomes and those who aren’t prepared for out-of-pocket medical expenses are more likely to say they don’t like going to the doctor.
3. Few are making healthier choices, affecting their time on the clock: The 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report found little or no change in the past year for wellness indicators such as exercise and stress level. The findings show unhealthy habits may be affecting more than their personal time – these habits may relate to reliability on the job. Unhealthy individuals are less likely to describe themselves as high achievers, hard workers or someone who can be counted on.
1National council on problem gambling (2014). Facts and figures. Accessed on June 13, 2014, from http://www.ncpgambling.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=4511.