A health insurance trade group is gathering bits of data that insurers and producers can use to pierce the baby boomers’ psychological defenses against thinking about the risk of disability.
In the past decade, America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, and its members have focused attention on the perils facing the “young invincibles”-20-something Americans who go without health coverage, in part because they believe illness can’t happen to them.
More recently, inspired in part by the efforts of groups such as the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education, Arlington, Va., and the Council for Disability Awareness, Portland, Maine, to increase awareness of disability and disability insurance, AHIP researchers have been looking at gaps in public knowledge about disabilities and disability coverage.
Some boomers seem to have the same kind of “won’t happen to me” attitude about disability insurance that the young invincibles have about health insurance, according to AHIP President Karen Ignagni.
Years ago, most Americans in their late 40s, 50s and early 60s had paid off their mortgages and pushed their youngest children firmly out the door. Today, many boomers in those age brackets are still working to pay off mortgage loans and even to handle elementary school tuition bills. Despite the responsibilities of the “graying invincibles,” some who could afford to buy solid protection make do with employer-provided coverage, or no income protection, AHIP researchers have found.
“There is a major awareness deficit,” Ignagni says. “Boomers have left themselves unprotected, and that, I think, is a tsunami that will hurt boomers.”
AHIP is gearing up to try to use May-LIFE’s Disability Insurance Awareness Month–as a vehicle for convincing boomers to take the risk of become disabled seriously.
Two years ago, AHIP commissioned a survey that mapped consumers’ thinking about disability insurance. In answers to that survey, boomer participants “overestimated their coverage and underestimated their risk,” Ignagni says.
This year, AHIP has commissioned a series of three short Web surveys.
In the answers to the first of the three new surveys, boomers showed some signs that the first Disability Insurance Awareness Month, held last May, and other educational campaigns are starting to get through.
About 63% of the boomer participants said they knew that a typical U.S. working adult is more likely to suffer from disability due to a serious illness or injury than to die.