The following is a guest post from Meg Tarris who works with her husband, Greg and her son, Alex. We have spent our careers advising clients (both corporate and individual), about their investments and finances. In recent years, we began hearing again and again many similar stories of financial hardship as a result of rising healthcare costs. Based on our research, we were shocked at what we learned and as a result decided to seek a solution.
In the face of rising health care costs and un-reimbursed expenses, the key was to help people preserve their savings and investments, as well as their family’s well-being. We did this by aligning ourselves with a company that helps mitigate health care financial exposure by offering an array of Voluntary benefits AFLAC.
The following is a recap of one of many lives we have affected since we began working with AFLAC.
Despite having excellent health care benefits, a mid level manager at a major school district purchased an Accident Policy thinking that accidents can happen to anyone at any time. Since it was so affordable, she included coverage for her husband and children. Six months later, her husband was riding a motorcycle with their 17-year-old daughter when suddenly, in broad daylight, a deer jumped out, landed in between them and thrashed into them with its hooves. The husband was in critical care in the hospital with 9 broken ribs as well as both collar bones. He was out of work for five months!
The daughter had crushed facial and jaw bones (lost all her teeth) and spent days in intensive care. Naturally her mother sought the best medical treatment including a plastic surgeon who, like many specialists, did not accept any medical insurance. She had to pay cash up front and hope to get some reimbursement from their major medical carrier later on. There were also other associated expenses that will never be reimbursed including the missed work by the policy holder to take time off to be with her daughter and husband.
Through it all, Aflac guided them in the claims process so that they received benefits on a timely and needed basis. As the policy holder said, “I do not know what we would have done without Aflac. The emotional trauma caused to our family was tremendous and we were fortunate that their financial burden was not as well.”
While this was a severe incident, it is important to remember that, in terms of un-reimbursed medical expenses and other expenses, almost everyone has their financial lives affected by medical events.
According to the annual Harvard University study done on why bankruptcies occur: 60% are due to medical bills and 77% of those people had health insurance! Most people are not well-informed about what their health insurance does and does not cover. They are also not aware of the financial risks posed by medical incidents and the inevitable un-reimbursed expensed that ensue whether they are medically related or just the costs of living that still most be met regardless of one’s medical treatments. These costs can pose significant risks to our investments, savings, and cash flow.
So where do Voluntary Benefits fit in with all of this?
Consumer driven healthcare enables one to choose what makes sense based on one’s risk profile and life style needs. These benefits include: Accident, Critical Illness, Hospital, Dental, Short-Term Disability and Life insurance. With group rates, and in many cases tax-advantaged premiums, they are surprisingly affordable often as little as $3 to $4 a week depending upon coverage desired. When a covered event (like an accident or debilitating illness like a heart attack, stroke or cancer) triggers a claim, the policies pay predetermined benefits directly to the policyholder regardless of medical insurance coverage or lack thereof. Payments you receive can be used to cover any expenses,not just medical.
More employers this year will begin offering Voluntary Employee Benefits to their workers in preparation for the “real game changer” in 2014: further implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requiring employers to provide healthcare plans for their workers. This will result in increases in deductibles and out-of-pocket responsibilities—creating a greater need for Voluntary Benefits than ever before.