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If you’ve ever experienced an injury or illness requiring a hospital stay, you know just how expensive it can be – even after major medical insurance pays its share. Hospital inpatient care accounts for nearly a third of U.S health care costs1 and there’s no relief in sight: The average length of a hospital stay is 4.5 days at a cost of $10,400.2

The sky-high cost of hospitalization combined with the likelihood of at least one inpatient experience – 36.5 million Americans were hospital “guests” in 20122 – is driving a growing need for voluntary hospital indemnity insurance.

What is hospital indemnity insurance?

A real-life experience

In 2012, I made the best decision I could to help ensure financial security for my family. I decided to apply for Aflac voluntary insurance made available through my employer.

Near the end of 2013, I found out that we were expecting a baby! I had a very good pregnancy – up until the third trimester. I went to the doctor for a usual checkup and found out that my blood pressure was slightly high. The doctor said we would need to keep an eye on it and see how it was at my next appointment. Well, my blood pressure turned out to be much higher and I also had protein in my urine. The next thing I knew, I was in an ambulance on my way to a bigger hospital – almost two hours from home – that could handle a situation like mine. I spent three weeks in the hospital and on bed rest just to try to keep the baby in the womb for as long as possible. At exactly 34 weeks, my baby girl was born via cesarean section. She was very small and had to stay in the neonatal intensive care unit for almost two weeks.

Thanks to my Aflac hospital indemnity and short-term disability insurance policies, my husband was able to stay with us almost the entire time. You never know what could happen in life, so it’s nice to be prepared.

Andrea Feldhake

A voluntary hospital indemnity insurance policy is one of many plans employers can make available to help workers cope with costs associated with a hospital stay. These policies help cover costs major medical was never intended to pay. In the event of hospitalization, participants receive cash benefits that can be used to help pay daily living expenses, such as rent, gas, groceries, utilities and other necessities. Benefits are predetermined and are paid regardless of any other insurance in place. It’s important to note that while some hospital indemnity plans provide only hospitalization benefits, other plans may be more far-reaching and address diagnostic procedures, outpatient surgery and transportation by ambulance.

Hospital indemnity insurance is becoming more popular as employers implement consumer-driven health care plans. These include high-deductible plans and health savings accounts, or HSAs, which shift more out-of-pocket costs onto workers. Features of hospital indemnity plans may include:

  • No deductibles or copayments.
  • HSA compatibility.
  • No networks, so policyholders can be treated at the hospitals of their choice.
  • No precertification requirements.
  • Portability, which means policyholders can retain their coverage even if they change jobs or retire.

Who needs hospital indemnity insurance?

Generally speaking, all employees are susceptible to injuries or illnesses requiring a hospital stay – which means they’re all candidates for voluntary hospital indemnity insurance. This type of coverage gives workers confidence that unforeseen difficulties won’t destroy their financial security.

Individuals who are concerned about how they’d pay the bills if they were hospitalized should consider hospital indemnity insurance. Why? Because even the best major medical insurance doesn’t typically cover an entire hospital invoice. For example, there are copayments and deductibles to consider. There are also other factors to think about, such as transportation and meals for family members, help with child care costs and sometimes even lost income. These surprise expenses add up quickly and often force people to dip into their savings or borrow money.

According to the 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report, 53 percent of workers would need to borrow from a 401(k) and/or use a credit card to cover unexpected medical costs. What’s more, 66 percent wouldn’t be able to adjust to the high financial costs associated with an illness or injury, and 49 percent have less than $1,000 on hand to pay unexpected out-of-pocket expenses associated with a medical event.

Just one hospital stay can wreak havoc on an employee’s finances. It’s a simple fact, but it’s one that underscores the importance of hospital indemnity insurance and the financial protection it can help provide.