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How Aflac supports people with sickle cell disease

Some medical issues are essentially celebrities—pro sports leagues raising awareness and support, notable people sharing their struggles. Others tend to be left out of the spotlight. One of those conditions is sickle cell disease, a condition so life-altering that your employees’ children—and all newborns in the U.S.—are tested for it at birth.1

What is sickle cell disease, and who does it affect?

Sickle cell disease is an inherited red blood cell disorder. The misshapen red blood cells in people with SCD die early, causing a constant shortage. Further, when traveling through small blood vessels, the cells are prone to getting stuck, blocking blood flow and causing extreme pain and other significant problems, including infections and strokes.1

This condition affects 100,000 Americans and deals an unequal blow to minorities. SCD occurs in 1 out of every 365 Black or African American births and 1 in 16,300 Hispanic American births.2 On top of that, the U.S. incident estimate for sickle cell trait was 73.1 cases per 1,000 black newborns, 3.0 cases per 1,000 white newborns and 6.9 cases per 1,000 hispanic newborns.3

People with the sickle cell trait won’t necessarily have symptoms of the disease, but they can pass it on to their children. And while those with the trait typically carry just one of the two defective genes that cause the production of abnormal hemoglobin, conditions such as severe dehydration and intense physical activity can lead to grave health issues—including sudden death.4

How Aflac is providing sickle cell disease support to planholders and communities

Through numerous group and individual plans, Aflac helps enrollees in their fight against SCD. Sickle cell is now one of the diseases eligible for benefits on the specified disease rider in the group critical illness plan. And starting in 2022, SCD will be covered in the bone marrow transplant benefit under the same plan. SCD is also one of the critical illnesses eligible for benefits under the Aflac Plus Rider, which can be attached to accident, hospital, disability and cancer policies on the individual product level.

Additionally, between accident insurance, hospital, disability and other individual and group plans, Aflac is helping your employees and their families with SCD, whether they are in the screening and diagnosis stages or find themselves hospitalized or unable to work. And through life insurance, Aflac continues to help far beyond that. Those with SCD are eligible to apply for Aflac’s whole life and term life insurance. Even if they aren’t approved for either of these, they are guaranteed coverage under Aflac’s guaranteed-issue life insurance.

And Aflac’s commitment doesn’t stop with its coverage.

How Aflac teamed up with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

The Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center is the largest pediatric sickle cell disease program in the United States, providing care for more than 2,000 children and young adults each year.5

For decades, Aflac has been committed to combating blood disorders, including sickle cell disease. Aflac has worked with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta since 1995, helping make the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center one of the foremost pediatric programs in the nation. And Aflac is leading the charge against SCD in particular.

Living with sickle cell disease

Sickle cell disease is the most common inherited blood disorder in the United States.4 Yet, while people with other less common genetic conditions have extensive networks of multidisciplinary specialty centers devoted to delivering comprehensive and coordinated care, a comparable national network of treatment centers for sickle cell disease has yet to exist.

Most comprehensive sickle cell disease centers are in big cities, so many people living with the disease can’t access them physically or financially—sometimes both. As a direct result, about 20% of people with SCD tend to receive their care in the emergency room, which isn’t the ideal way to manage a chronic condition. The human cost is enormous: The life expectancy gap between Black people with the disease and Black people without it is 35 years.7

Yet while comprehensive care isn’t always accessible, Aflac will be there to help when needed most. Between our long-standing partnership with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and our present and upcoming SCD-focused policies, our commitment to the sickle cell disease community isn’t lip service—it’s proven.

Help protect your workforce from a painful condition: Contact your Aflac benefits advisor or visit

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