Life can seem like an endless number of to-dos, with top priorities getting the most attention — things like our families and jobs. For many men, however, taking care of their health may not make the list.
According to Aflac’s 2021 Men’s Health Issues Survey, in the past year, 45% of men did not go to the doctor for an annual checkup, 60% missed going to their eye doctor and 54% did not see their dentist.
Preventative care is essential to one’s well-being, but just as important is building awareness of common health issues and addressing financial concerns about medical costs. Brokers and agents can use the Movember and No Shave November men’s health campaigns as a timely reason to encourage clients to foster conversations with their male employees about their health.
For men’s health, what you don’t know actually could hurt you: Aflac’s survey revealed two-thirds of men said they do not feel well informed of the ailments that commonly affect men. This lack of knowledge combined with not going to the doctor regularly could lead to more serious, undetected health issues.
There are a variety of illnesses men should be aware of and discuss with their doctor, such as heart disease, certain cancers, Parkinson’s disease and ALS. In fact, men are at risk for a heart attack at a much earlier age than women. And after age 50, men are more than twice as likely as women to develop skin cancer.
It’s in your clients’ best interests to have a healthy workforce. Brokers and agents can help clients come up with ideas to bolster their year-round wellness education efforts, taking into account their workplace environment. For example, men in a more sedentary or high-stress environment may need encouragement to get an annual physical to check heart health or options for managing mental health. Remind men who work outdoors of precautions for sun exposure, such as applying sunscreen and getting a skin cancer screening.
Awareness may only be half the battle, but it is an important step. If clients need more help getting started, agents and brokers also can offer to assist with a communications strategy.
The High Cost Of Health Care
Another barrier for men going to the doctor is financial concerns. In the past year, nearly half of men said they postponed or avoided medical treatment due to medical costs, the Aflac survey revealed. In fact, two-thirds of those who file for bankruptcy cite medical issues as a key contributing factor, according to the American Journal of Public Health.
One way clients can help offset financial fears is with their benefits strategy. In addition to life, dental, vision and disability insurance, another option is supplemental insurance, which helps with expenses health insurance doesn’t cover. For example, cancer and critical illness plans pay cash benefits to help with costs associated with the diagnosis and treatment of covered sicknesses. Some even include a wellness or health screening benefit to encourage getting an annual checkup.
Although there is validity to client concerns about the increasing costs of providing comprehensive employee health care, the benefits of doing so often outweigh any marginal costs. For example, offering a strong benefits package can help promote employee well-being and offset workers’ financial anxieties – helping them be more satisfied and productive at work.
Continuing The Dialogue
Men need encouragement to continue to seek better health, whether through more education or addressing financial concerns. Brokers and agents have the opportunity to positively influence a necessary conversation among their clients’ workforces about men’s health, which should have a prominent place on everyone’s priority list.
Wendy Herndon is second vice president of product launch and adoption at Aflac. She may be contacted at [email protected].