Recognizing that nearly 50 percent of Americans face medical debt, Aflac has announced a national initiative, Close the Gap, designed to help those facing large medical bills. Aflac notes that this people in difficult situations with such bills often have a gap between health care coverage and medical bills and that low-income and/or minority communities are disproportionately affected.
To draw attention to the initiative, Aflac has enlisted former NFL player and current Jackson State football coach Deion Sanders as a brand ambassador. Sanders himself recently went through life-threatening complications as the result of foot surgery, leading him to recognize the gravity of the issue, stating, “When I was recently sidelined for months with my own unexpected medical emergency, I was not only reminded about how fortunate I am, but also saw firsthand the impact it had on both of my families—my fiancé and son, as well as my football family. Fortunately, I was able to focus on my recovery and not worry about the cost. However, too many American, especially those of color, are not afforded the same piece of mind and we are one step away from a medical incident that could easily lead to financial ruin.”
According to Aflac, the Close the Gap initiative is a multifaced, comprehensive program that aims to support, educate and advocate for the need to close the health and wealth gap. In December 2021, the company gave out its first 20 CareGrants to help individuals with medical dept and allow them to focus on recovery. Aflac has committed $1 million to the CareGrants program in 2022, with some grants earmarked for communities impacted greatly by medical debt as identified by their newly created Aflac Care Index.
The Aflac Care Index is based on a survey designed to help educate people about health and wealth disparities. Among other findings, the study found that nearly two-thirds of Americans savings are equivalent to equivalent or less than their health insurance out-of-pocket maximum and that just under half of Americans have $1000 or less in savings. Moreover, two-thirds of insured Americans do not have supplemental health insurance.
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SOURCE: Forbes, Charles Taylor