Where Millennials Are Dropping The Ball

This post is sponsored by Aflac. I was compensated for writing it, but all opinions are 100 percent mine.

I want to tell you a story that changed my life. It was July of 2013, I had just turned 24 and was working my first adult job for about a month. My new boss told me she needed a personal favor, she asked if I would come in early and go with her to take her friend to the hospital. To be honest, I had no idea what I had signed on for. In fact, I was just thinking, “Yay a field trip. I’ll get out of the office for a bit and possibly get off early.”

One week later I met my boss at the office at 6:00 a.m. to drive with her to her friend’s house. She told me that she had met her friend, Allison in a professional group a few years back. Less than a year before she was one of the top executives at a local investment firm and took a higher paying job at a new company right before she discovered she had a brain tumor.

Within a matter of weeks, she was having surgery to have a stent put into her brain. While removing the tumor went well and she was for all intents and purposes cancer free things were far from being better.

Complications from the stent and procedures that followed left her with very little mobility, constant nausea and basically vertigo.

As we entered her home, it was all I could do not to cry. She was laying in her bed with a portable toilet next to her, zip locked bags filled with mucus covered tissues and boxes of tissue and toilet paper rolls lay in multiple places all within reaching distance.

My boss introduced us and we proceeded to get her ready for her doctor’s appointment. This included changing her diaper, wiping her down with wet wipes and trying to comb her thin hair, all without causing her too much movement because as she moved she would become nauseous and start spitting up.

We spent 12 hours in total transporting her and taking care of her at the hospital.

The worst part?

She was getting by on the kindness of people she hardly knew. When she had to leave her job she didn’t have any medical coverage or long term plan. Luckily her home was paid for and she had some money saved but for a while, at that point she had been living off the kindness of business associates time, donations and her sister who lived more than 4 hours away.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because my friends a lot of us seem to forget that these sort of things happen. While we can’t predict the future we can prepare for it. I have personally seen times where I was so grateful for insurance like when my apartment got broken into, when I had bronchitis, when I got strep, when I drove a rental car into a ditch earlier this month. I am a big fan of insurance if you haven’t guessed. Because I have an extensive history using it and a previous history working in the industry I can tell you it’s important to get the right coverage for you and your family but a lot of my fellow millennials don’t really see how important it is. They know they need certain kinds of insurance to comply with certain laws but they don’t see the added values of select coverage.

Open enrollment

Open enrollment is the time of year business owners and their employees sit down and decide what coverage is right for them. According to the 2016 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey, 56% of millennials say they don’t understand their health insurance policy, which just makes me sad. For a lot of us we only do the research when it’s too late. We wait until something has happened to call and find out what our policies mean instead of before, and often end up feeling disappointed and not accurately covered.

For a generation with so much information at their fingertips we base a lot of our insurance decisions strictly on dollar signs instead of doing research when given the opportunity.  I get it, we are focused on so many things, finding love, social media, that new food truck everyone is raving about, getting ready for our best friend’s wedding and catching the bouquet.20160423_212353

All those things are great but so is protecting yourself. Think I’m being dramatic about how much attention the average millennial pays to their insurance coverage? The survey also discovered that instead of completing their annual benefits enrollment they would rather be doing just about anything else. According to the 2016 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey:

28% would rather go a day without social media

17% would rather talk to an ex

16% would rather change baby diapers.

As insurance continues to change remember that there are resources to help you figure it all out. Whatever company your employer provides insurance through should have a customer service line or certain representative to talk you through your options, which can not only save you money but protect you and your family in the long run.

Let’s be honest, most of us are living paycheck to paycheck. If we are saving it’s probably for a purchase or a trip, instead of an emergency. While high-deductible health plans (HDHP’s) are becoming more and more common, millennials do have a choice when it comes to supplementing their coverage.

One great way to supplement your insurance cover is to consider voluntary insurance coverage like a Health Savings Plan.

Voluntary insurance pays cash when you’re sick or hurt so you can focus on recovery. Major medical insurance policies pay doctors and hospitals but voluntary insurance pays directly to you, the insured (unless otherwise assigned).

Accident, disability, critical illness, cancer, hospital and life insurance are examples of voluntary insurance policies that complement your major medical insurance based on your individual needs.

It’s a hard truth that regardless of how sick you are, bills still have to be paid. The 2016 Aflac WorkForces Report found that 65% of employees have less than 1,000 to pay out-of-pocket expenses associated with an unexpected serious illness or accident if it happened today. So besides the price of the deductible, if you have less than $1000 in the bank how do you expect to pay your rent and other bills?

You know what is worse than being sick or injured and unable to work? Being sick and injured and having financial stress.

1376255808901You shouldn’t have to dip into vacation funds, holiday budgets or savings to maintain your lifestyle, and with voluntary insurance like Aflac’s you have access to cash benefits that pay you directly (unless otherwise assigned) and quickly- helping give you financial support and peace of mind.

What happened to Allison?

After several more surgeries, her life is still not what it was before. She currently lives in an assisted living facility but the vertigo has stopped.

Have you ever gotten really sick?  Do you know anyone who completely lost their mobility because of an unforeseen illness? Do you feel adequately covered? Tell me in the comments.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and American Family Life Assurance Company of New York. Z161128D  10/16