Aflac Survey Finds Low Savings Among Workers to Cover Medical Expenses

Photo credit: Renjith KrishnanPhoto credit: Renjith Krishnan

More than half of workers in the Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg area have less than $1,000 in savings to cover unexpected medical expenses, according to new research.

Aflac, Columbus, Ga., published this finding in “2012 Aflac WorkForces Report,” which summarizes an online survey of nearly 1,900 benefits decision-makers and more than 6,100 U.S. workers. Conducted by Research Now on behalf of Aflac, the reports contains both employer and employee research.

The survey reveals that 54% of Tampa-St. Petersburg workers have less than $1,000 in savings for emergency expenses. And nearly 4 in 10 (39%) have less than $500 — 11% higher than the national average.

Six in 10 (60%) of Tampa-St. Petersburg workers respondents says that it is “very” or “not at all” likely that they or a family member would be diagnosed with a serious illness like cancer, despite findings from the American Cancer Society (Cancer Facts Figures 2012) that one in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. Additionally, more than half (51%) say they are not very or not at all likely to be diagnosed with a chronic illness, such as heart disease or diabetes.

The 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report also finds the following:

● Nearly six out of 10 (58%) don’t have a financial plan to handle the unexpected.

● Only 11% of area workers strongly agree their family will be financially prepared in the event of an unexpected emergency.

● When asked how Tampa-St. Pete employees would pay for out-of-pocket expenses due to an unexpected illness, the survey reveals that:

    • 44% say they would have to tap into savings.
    • 27% would use a credit card to cover the costs.
    • 11%— one out of 10 people — would have to withdraw funds from their 401(k) plans to cover the costs.

While 49% of Tampa-St. Pete workers would be at least somewhat likely to purchase voluntary health insurance plans if offered by their employers, the report finds that workers are unaware of the savings that can be realized by choosing the right plan. With the added protection voluntary insurance offers to help curb high medical expenses, employees can reduce their worry while focusing on their own health and recovery.

Full results of the 2012 survey can be found here.

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