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Don’t be a Stooge: Protect Yourself from Injury, Illness with Disability Insurance

Sure, the timeless eye poking and face slapping of The Three Stooges might trigger a few good belly laughs, but most people remain unprotected in the event of a serious injury, disability or illness. May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month and there are still many myths and misconceptions that need to be addressed. A new national survey by WellPoint, Inc. revealed that two out of three Americans don’t know what’s covered by their disability plans. In addition, three quarters of the survey participants don’t have disability insurance and one in 10 actually worry that they will jinx themselves if they purchase it.

This same survey found that most Americans need more information about disability insurance and many who don’t have coverage could not survive financially if an accident happened tomorrow. At a time when many Americans are still struggling with family finances, it’s time to place more emphasis on awareness and planning for life-changing events like a disability.

“Life is unpredictable,” said Pat Murphy, president and general manager of WellPoint’s Life and Disability business. “Most people don’t have enough saved to protect themselves and their families if something happened tomorrow. It’s time to understand how disability coverage can help when Americans are out of work due to an injury or disability.”

The survey also found that two-thirds of the survey participants don’t have enough money saved to cover living expenses for three months and nearly a third still live paycheck to paycheck. Most of the survey participants have started to worry about their future health – half admit they can’t afford to be out of work due to an injury or illness. And the same number report they would not have enough to cover being out of work three to six months.

There are some simple steps everyone can take to learn more about disability insurance options. Employees should talk to their employer and employers should remind employees about disability benefits. For those who are self-employed or unemployed, doing a little research online by going to sites like disabilitycanhappen.org, and talking to friends and family can help people explore their options.

There are still many misconceptions around disability insurance. According to the survey, half of the survey participants don’t know that pregnancy can lead to needing short-term disability coverage. In fact, 20 percent of disability claims are due to normal pregnancy and 9 percent are due to complications from pregnancy. WellPoint’s life and disability companies offer short-term disability plans that include benefits for new mothers, including a variety of resources and services that are designed to help them through this exciting, but sometimes challenging time.

Four in 10 survey participants also reported that they don’t know the length of time covered by long-term disability insurance. In fact, the average long-term disability claim lasts 31.2 months. What’s more, nearly one in three women and one in four men can expect to suffer a disability that keeps them out of work for 90 days or longer at some point during their working years.

Another four in 10 Americans surveyed believe disability insurance only covers injuries or accidents. Surprisingly, about 95 percent of disabilities are caused by illnesses rather than accidents. If an employer provides disability coverage from one of WellPoint’s life and disability companies, and if an employee is unable to work due to an illness or injury, the employee can talk with one of WellPoint’s disability case managers. In addition, employees can meet face-to-face with a licensed professional counselor up to three times at no charge – which is valuable support when an employee is facing a disability claim. WellPoint’s companies also offer unlimited 24/7 telephone counseling and online resources to help people address the various issues associated with a disability.

Additional survey results regarding disability insurance found:

  • Three in 10 Americans who participated in the survey have taken or know someone who has taken off work because of an injury, illness or disability.
  • Two-thirds of parents are concerned with their future health.
    • Six in 10 parents report that if they were injured tomorrow they would not have enough money to cover being out of work for three to six months.
  • More than half of Americans who took the survey report that they are more concerned with their day-to-day expenses than their future expenses.

The omnibus survey was conducted in April 2012 using the field services of Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS). The study reached a national sample of 2,500 American adults ages 18 and older. The study also looks at findings across gender, age, parental status, and experience with disability. For the purposes of this study, parents have a child under 18. The margin of error for the national sample is ±2.0% at the 95% confidence level, meaning if the study were replicated, the study findings would be within 2 percentage points 95 times out of 100.

About WellPoint, Inc.

WellPoint works to simplify the connection between Health, Care and Value. We help to improve the health of our members and our communities, and provide greater value to our customers and shareholders. WellPoint is one of the nation’s largest health benefits companies, with nearly 34 million members in its affiliated health plans, and a total of more than 62 million individuals served through its subsidiaries. As an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, WellPoint serves members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as the Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as the Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), and Wisconsin. In a majority of these service areas, WellPoint’s plans do business as Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, or Empire Blue Cross (in the New York service areas). WellPoint also serves customers throughout the country as UniCare and in certain California, Arizona and Nevada markets through our recently acquired CareMore Health Group, Inc. subsidiary. Additional information about WellPoint is available at www.wellpoint.com.

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