(Richard Drew AP)

Six in ten workers say it’s not very or not at all likely that they or a family member will be diagnosed with a serious illness like cancer, according to a new report.

Aflac, Columbus, Ga., published this finding in the 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report, an annual employee benefits study examining the forces impacting the trends, attitudes, and utilization of employee benefits. Conducted by Research Now (Plano, Tex.) on behalf of Aflac, the report contains an Employer Survey of 1,876 benefits decision-makers and an Employee Survey of 6,151 employed adults ages 18 and older.

The research reveals that 62% of workers think it’s not very or not at all likely they or a family member will be diagnosed with a serious illness like cancer. And more than half (55%) say they are not very or not at all likely to be diagnosed with a chronic illness, such as heart disease or diabetes. 

Despite optimism about their physical health, the study reveals that American workers also are concerned about their financial health. And many admit they are unprepared to handle the financial consequences of a serious illness or accident in their family.

The 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report found that:

· Half of American workers (51%) are trying to reduce debt.

· Nearly six in ten (58%) don’t have a financial plan to handle the unexpected.

· Only 8% of U.S. workers strongly agree their family will be financially prepared in the event of an unexpected emergency.

· Twenty-eight percent have less than $500 (51% have less than $1,000) in savings for emergency expenses.

When asked how they would pay for out-of-pocket expenses due to an unexpected illness, more than half (57%) of respondents say they would have to tap into savings, 30% would use a credit card and 19%—nearly one out of five people—would have to withdraw funds from their 401k plans to cover the costs.

The report also finds that 60% of workers would be at least somewhat likely to purchase voluntary health insurance plans if offered by their employer.