Six out of ten American workers do not have a financial plan in place to deal with an unexpected and costly life event such as a medical emergency.(1) That's a key finding of a national study released today analyzing forces impacting the trends, attitudes, and use of employee benefits. The 2011 Aflac WorkForces Report found that 51 percent of workers said they are not very or not at all prepared to pay for out-of-pocket expenses not covered by major medical insurance. And 31 percent have less than $500 in savings for emergency expenses. The 2011 Aflac WorkForces Report is an online survey of more than 2,000 benefits decision makers and more than 4,000 U.S. workers(2),conducted by Harris Interactive and released by Aflac, the No. 1 provider of supplemental and guaranteed-renewable insurance in the United States.
The study uncovered that a minority of U.S. workers believe an accident or illness could impact them or a family member. The 2011 Aflac WorkForces Report revealed only 19 percent of employees think it likely they or a family member will be diagnosed with a chronic illness, such as heart disease or diabetes, and 13 percent said they thought a serious illness like cancer will occur or that there will be a need for long-term care. Only nine percent foresee a long-term hospital stay, eight percent think they or a family member will become disabled, and just six percent think they will be in a car accident.
According to the National Safety Council, more than 25 million people in the United States suffered accident-related disabling injuries in 2008 with 13 million incidents happening at home and more than 5 million involving motor vehicles. The total cost of all unintentional disabling injuries, including items like medical expenses and lost wages/productivity, was more than $700 billion. The American Heart Association reports nearly one in three deaths in 2006 was caused by a form of cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke.
"About half of the workers we surveyed said they're already struggling with financial stress," said Audrey Tillman, executive vice president of Corporate Services at Aflac. "It shows how close to the edge many people are and how an unexpected accident or illness could make things even more challenging, financially."
When asked how they would pay for out-of-pocket expenses due to an unexpected illness, 44 percent of workers said they would have to borrow money from family or friends, tap retirement savings, or use a credit card. And 19 percent - one out of five people - have no idea how they would cover the costs.
"Businesses have a responsibility to educate employees about the risks of being unprepared for the unexpected and should offer workplace benefits which meet that need," said Tillman. "And workers need to take better control of their futures by realizing financial well being is tied to their health."
The 2011 Aflac WorkForces Report also found 66 percent of workers would purchase additional health insurance benefits to make sure they are protected(1) and 59 percent said they would acquire voluntary insurance.
To see this year's inaugural study results and learn more about how and where individuals are vulnerable because of inadequate benefits choices, and how people can better protect themselves and their families against the unknown, visit www.AflacWorkForcesReport.com.
About the Aflac WorkForces Report -The Aflac WorkForces Report is an annual study analyzing the forces impacting the trends, attitudes, and use of employee benefits. Surveying both American workers and business decision makers, the Aflac WorkForces Report reconciles the perceptions and realities of benefits in the workplace. The insights aim to help businesses make informed decisions about benefits to better protect employees and their bottom line.
The 2011 Aflac WorkForces Research was conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Aflac. The research contained two components of research among the US workforce - Employer research and Employee research.
The Employer Survey was conducted online within the United States between August 17, 2010 and September 9, 2010 among 2,117 Benefits Decision Makers. Results were weighted to be representative of US companies with at least 3 employees based on company size (number of employees) and industry. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.
The Employee Survey was conducted online within the United States in two phases. The first phase was conducted between August 17, 2010 and September 1, 2010 among 3,035 employed adults aged 18 and older who are employed full or part time at a company with 3 or more employees and not retired. Results were weighted as needed for age, gender, education, race/ethnicity, region, household income and industry. The second phase was conducted between February 11-15, 2011 among 1,188 employed adults aged 18 and older who are employed FT/PT and not self-employed. Results were weighted as needed for age, gender, education, race/ethnicity, region, and household income. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online on both phases of this research. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.
About Aflac -When a policyholder gets sick or hurt, Aflac pays cash benefits fast. For 55 years, Aflac insurance policies have helped provide a safety net and given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress. In the United States, Aflac is the number one provider of guaranteed-renewable insurance. In Japan, Aflac is the number one insurance company in terms of individual insurance policies in force. Aflac insurance products provide protection to more than 50 million people worldwide. For five consecutive years, Aflac has been recognized by Ethisphere magazine as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies and by Forbes magazine as one of America's Best-Managed Companies in the Insurance category. In 2011, Fortune magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for the 13th consecutive year. Also, Fortune magazine has included Aflac on its list of Most Admired Companies 10 times. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To find out more about Aflac, visit aflac.com or aflacenespanol.com.
(1) This finding was derived from the Aflac WorkForces Report survey of more than 1,188 workers in February 2011.
(2) The Aflac WorkForces Report included one survey of more than 2,000 benefits decision makers and two surveys of workers (one of more than 3,000 workers in September 2010, the other of more than 1,188 workers in February 2011).