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Survey: Most Americans fail to protect their income

I hate to break it to you, but odds are, you’re a bad gambler. The emotions that cause you to pick UW-Green Bay to win the NCAA tournament or the double fudge brownie at lunch are the same impulses that may be causing you to inadvertently gamble with your family’s financial future.

Whether we realize it or not, when given the option of a short- versus long-term payoff, most of us tend to favor the option that provides the most instant gratification.  This preference does not always serve us well.

We all know the guy who just bought a boat, but doesn’t have anything in his retirement account, right? He’s probably gambling on a future sales bonus to cover his current financial risk.

But don’t worry – I’m sure you’re different.   You’re a three-time fantasy football league champion and bluffed your way to success at Thursday night’s poker game, right? Unfortunately, none of that changes your odds in the game of life.

Admittedly, some safe bets we’re pretty good at making.  We lock our doors, buy a safe car, exercise and even put on sunscreen. But how often do we think about protecting our incomes?  It turns out, not often enough.

According to a survey conducted by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, 90 percent of respondents say they lock their doors and windows, but just 40 percent of Americans have disability insurance – which leaves their personal finances at risk.

Disability insurance plans help replace income when employees can’t work due to a disability or illness, so they can focus on what’s most important – getting better.

While a disability can seem unlikely, it’s more common than many people think.

According to a 2012 FBI report, the risk of a home robbery is one in 36, but people wrongly think they’re more likely to be robbed than to become disabled. Unfortunately, the facts are that more than one in four of today’s 20 year-olds will become disabled before they retire, according to the Center for Disability Awareness.

It’s difficult to protect yourself from what you’re not expecting, and disability is a commonly underestimated threat. Most people think of workplace injuries or accidents when they think of disability benefits, but the reality is 90 percent of disabilities are caused by illness, such as arthritis, back pain or cancer.

The good news is disability insurance can be added to your company’s employee benefit plans very cost effectively.

Most providers that work with employee health plans have a disability option. At Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, we offer voluntary options to help businesses and their employees save. This gives the employer total budget planning flexibility, with a range of employer contribution options ranging from 100 percent of the costs, all the way zero-contribution, voluntary benefit. With voluntary benefits, employees pay the full premium for the plan. They benefit from a group discount rate, and employers benefit from happier, healthier employees at no cost.

Disability benefits not only provide peace of mind and financial protection, but they also help connect the dots for overall health. For this reason, integrating disability and medical benefits may also help employees get back to work sooner and help employers control costs of absenteeism. More than 80 percent of employers using integrated benefits agree this approach is valuable to both employees and employers, according to an August 2015 study by Employee Benefit News for Anthem.

For employer groups that have medical and disability insurance with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, we offer enhanced support and clinical coordination to help prevent claims, reduce the duration of claims and increase member engagement. This holistic approach leads to a healthier, more productive workforce.

Financial wellness is an important component of one’s overall well-being. Having disability insurance helps alleviate financial stress and gives your employees added peace of mind. When these benefits can be added at low or no cost to the company, why not do it?  Disability insurance might not be something your employees know to ask for, but it’s one of the better financial bets we all can make, and the payoff comes when it’s needed the most.

You can learn more about disability insurance and voluntary benefits by visiting


This report presents the findings of a telephone omnibus survey using the field services of Opinion Research Corporation, from April 16-20, 2015. The study was conducted using two probability samples:  randomly selected landline telephone numbers and randomly selected mobile (cell) telephone numbers.  The combined sample consists of 1,010 adults (18 years old and older) living in the continental United States.  Of the 1,010 interviews, 508 were from the landline sample and 502 from the cell phone sample. The margin of error for the sample of 1,010 is ± 3.08 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. This means that if we were to replicate the study, we would expect to get the same results within 3.08 percentage points 95 times out of 100.

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Paul Nobile President
Nobile is a 20-year veteran of the insurance industry whose experience includes time with Rush Prudential Health Plans, Aetna, and United Healthcare. Prior to joining Anthem, Nobile served as the Director of Sales and Account Management for the Midwest region at UniCare, a health benefits company based in Chicago and owned by Anthem’s parent company and also ran UniCare’s Eastern Region with offices.

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