Whether due to reluctance, being busy or apprehension, doctor visits do not rank high on men’s priority lists. In fact, Aflac’s 2021 Men’s Health Issues Survey found 45% of men did not go to the doctor for an annual checkup in the past 12 months.
Out of sight, out of mind is not a good way to take care of your health, because avoiding the doctor only heightens risks. June is Men’s Health Month, which opens the door for brokers and consultants to address this challenge with clients and raise awareness around important men’s health issues, including the way benefits can help encourage preventive care for employees.
Helping Hands For Common Roadblocks
Living a healthy life starts with understanding what risks to consider. However, Aflac’s study showed two-thirds of men don’t feel well informed of the illnesses and ailments commonly impacting men — signaling a need for more education.
This lack of awareness means the risk of serious health issues without early detection. For instance, about 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. While testicular cancer is less common, the average age of a diagnosis is low at 33 years old. Besides these male-specific health issues, there are a variety of illnesses men are more vulnerable to than women. For example, one study found roughly 1 in 9 men will suffer cardiac arrest by age 70, compared to 1 in 30 women.
Another common barrier for men is uneasiness about going to the doctor. Nearly one-third (29%) of men aged 18-34 said they experience fear or anxiety about a physician’s visit. However, regular medical checkups provide a greater chance of discovering any latent health issues versus relying on yourself to discover them. Overcoming health problems is much more likely when detected in the early stages.
Fortunately, many men are receptive to encouragement: Aflac found 44% said their partner or spouse most persuades them to visit the doctor and 56% said women in their lives are the best at spurring them to get a check-up.
One way to help convince men to go to the doctor may be to discuss money. Early detection can lead to less expensive medical treatment, which should provide comfort since the Aflac study showed 13% of men indicated that medical costs keep them awake at night. In fact, 45% said they postponed or avoided medical treatment in some form due to costs within the past 12 months, including filling prescriptions, seeing a doctor for a serious illness or injury, or getting physician-recommended screenings or exams.
In addition to talking to men about seeking medical care and proactive behaviors, discussions surrounding affordable care could be a natural follow-up conversation. Supplemental insurance can help with expenses health insurance doesn’t cover by quickly paying cash benefits that can be used however one wants in the event of a covered illness.
Some plans also have a wellness or health screening benefit available to policyholders for having an annual physical, diagnostic tests or prostate screening — even if their health insurance already covers it. Promoting these types of benefits can help encourage more men to seek preventative care, especially since Aflac’s study found 10% of men said they would be motivated to see a doctor if they directly received a cash benefit as part of an insurance claim.
Creating A Dialogue Around Men’s Health
By educating both men and women on men’s health issues and how resources such as insurance benefits can help encourage men to take charge of their health, brokers and consultants can help draw attention to the topic of men’s health and the vital role that benefits can play in helping make men healthier.
Virgil Miller is president of group and individual benefits at Aflac. He may be contacted at [email protected].
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