As important as financial planning is, establishing a financial plan isn’t necessarily fun for most people. Especially in a world where family situations, medical hiccups and economic fluctuations can affect physical and mental health, household needs and employment. But the costs of not planning can be devastating.
The numbers speak for themselves: 40% of Americans with employer coverage report difficulty paying for a health care or health insurance cost,1 1 in 6 Americans have an unpaid medical bill on their credit report (amounting to $81 billion nationwide)2 and 62% of bankruptcies are caused by medical issues.3
The good news for you and your community: As an Aflac agent, you’re in a perfect position to help.
Financial planning tip #1: Focus on emergency savings first
Even before the pandemic, 28% of Americans had no emergency savings, and only 1 in 4 had a rainy day fund—a rainy day fund that still wouldn’t be enough to cover three months of living expenses.4 And COVID-19 has only exacerbated the situation: As the pandemic continues to take a toll, only 16% of Americans say they are very comfortable with their emergency savings.5 Additionally, only 39% of Americans can cover a $1,000 emergency expense—such as an emergency room bill or a car repair—out of savings.6
With unemployment rates still higher than they were before the pandemic,7 we’re in a prolonged emergency that depleted the savings of those who already had any, and made it difficult to plan for and accumulate a new savings reserve. And these savings aren’t just helpful if an emergency actually happens. They’re beneficial regardless of need, because they help alleviate a common burden: financial stress.
Financial planning tip #2: Know how financial stress affects decisions
When asked to name the most important financial problem facing their family, Americans are more likely to mention health care costs than any other issue. In fact, it’s the foremost financial problem across all income levels.8
That doesn’t mean it’s the only issue triggering financial stress, but it is near the top of client concerns. Lack of savings and job situations (employment status, decreasing income, etc.), along with medical expenses, are three of the most common causes of financial stress9—and COVID-19 has affected all of these on a national scale. As a result, 42% of Americans are dealing with financial stress … and its effects.10
People wrestling with financial stress are 11 times more likely to have sleepless nights, 10 times more likely to be unable to finish daily tasks at work, 9 times more likely to have troubled relationships with co-workers and twice as likely to be looking for a new job. And as they may lose three hours per week on monetary worries, they can lose up to 39 productive days a year—collectively costing employers an estimated 13%-18% of annual salary costs.10
This cascade effect means that financial stress is a wide-reaching problem that affects all corners of society, even among those who may not feel it directly. But as an Aflac agent, you’re uniquely positioned to help alleviate some of this stress.
Financial planning tip #3: Approach the conversation with care
As an Aflac agent, you know what it means to care for people—that caring for people means caring about what they care about. And part of that means caring about their finances.
By providing your clients with Aflac’s enhanced supplemental insurance offerings, you’re doing just that: helping people with expenses that health insurance was never designed to cover. By being an Aflac agent, you’re caring for people by giving them room to focus on the things that matter to them the most.
Aflac agents are independent agents of Aflac, and are not employees of Aflac.
1 Kaiser Family Foundation. “Kaiser Family Foundation/LA Times Survey of Adults with Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance.” Published May 2019. Accessed 8.6.2021.
2 The Guardian. “‘I live on the street now’: how Americans fall into medical bankruptcy.” Published 11.14.2019. Accessed 8.6.2021.
3 Balance. “Medical Bankruptcy and the Economy.” Published 4.30.2021. Accessed 8.6.2021.
4 Bankrate. “A growing percentage of Americans have no emergency savings whatsoever.” Published 7.1.2019. Accessed 8.6.2021.
5 Bankrate. “Survey: Nearly 3 times as many Americans say they have less emergency savings versus more since pandemic.” Published 8.20.2020. Accessed 8.6.2021.
6 Bankrate. “Less Than 4-in-10 Could Pay an Unexpected $1,000 Expense Out of Savings.” Published 1.11.2021. Accessed 8.6.2021.
7 Congressional Research Service. “Unemployment Rates During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Updated 6.15.2021. Accessed 8.16.2021.
8 Gallup. “Healthcare Costs Top Financial Problems for U.S. Families.” Published 5.30.2019. Accessed 8.6.2021.
9 NEFE. “Survey Update: Over 4 in 5 Americans Still Experiencing COVID Related Financial Stress.” Published 10.8.2021. Accessed 9.21.2021.
10 Salary Finance. “Inside the Wallets of Working Americans: The 2nd Annual Salary Finance Report.” Published 2020. Accessed 8.6.2021.
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