29% of American Workers Would Exhaust Resources within a Month
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Some 59% of U.S. workers said they would only be able to pay their bills without a paycheck for 12 weeks if they became sick and unable to work, according to a new national survey from Cigna.
Even more alarming is that 29% said they would exhaust their resources in a month or less. Workers are overwhelmingly unprepared financially to weather a costly injury or illness that keeps them out of work.
The survey was conducted among adults ages 25 to 65 living in the U.S. who work full-time and who enrolled for employer-offered benefits within the past two years. It examined views on different types of benefits, including various kinds of voluntary benefits such as disability, accidental injury, critical illness and accidental death insurance. Voluntary benefits are commonly offered by employers as an option for workers to purchase through payroll deductions and are designed to help consumers offset the financial impact of unexpected, serious injuries or illnesses.
When asked about different types of employer-offered benefits that can help provide financial protection, workers were significantly less familiar with these benefits compared to dental, vision and life insurance. However, nearly half of those who are not currently enrolled in these benefits through their employer said they would be more inclined to enroll in disability insurance (50%), critical illness insurance (46%) or accidental injury insurance (45%) after hearing more about what they cover.
"Voluntary benefits are an important and growing part of many employers' overall benefits package and many of these products can offer financial protection against the unforeseen," said Mike Witwer, vice president for Cigna's voluntary benefits business. "The survey shows that many workers are worried about the financial burden of a serious illness or injury or being without a paycheck because of one."
In Cigna's survey, workers ages 25 to 34 were least familiar with the different types of employer-offered benefits they were asked about including disability, accidental injury, accidental death and critical illness insurance.
Financial protection benefits are relatively inexpensive and would typically cost as much as one-month's car payment for an entire year of coverage, said Witwer. When considering the potential for disabilities and injuries, he recommends that millennials consider disability and accidental injury coverage.
"They typically do not have savings to fall back on if they are not able to work because of an accident or illness, and in general, they do not believe they will become sick but they realize they could experience an accident," he said.
The statistics are eye-opening since one in four of today's 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire, and over 2.5 million disabled workers in the U.S. in their 20s, 30s and 40s received Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in December 2012. Every year, more than 4.1 million workers suffer a serious job-related injury or illness.