Singer Toni Braxton had a massive hit with the song “Unbreak My Heart.” However, in real life, the singer has dealt not only with heartbreak, but also heart disease.
Braxton isn’t alone, with millions of Americans at risk or diagnosed with heart disease. In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds, and heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States, causing about 1 in 4 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
February is American Heart Month, which gives agents and brokers a chance to talk with clients about the risk of heart disease and share proactive measures they can take to help protect their heart health and alleviate financial stress, including these three tips:
1. Take your risks to heart.
The risk for heart disease increases based on factors such as preexisting health conditions, lifestyle choices, age and family history. Unfortunately, the CDC estimates that nearly half of Americans (47%) have at least one of three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol and being a smoker. Understanding your health and taking steps to reduce health risks can go a long way toward a healthier heart.
Although factors like age and family history are outside a person’s control, customers can consider these factors when selecting benefits. In fact, almost three-quarters (74%) of employees said family history is somewhat to extremely influential in guiding their health insurance decisions, according to the 2019-2020 Aflac WorkForces Report.
2. Have a heart-to-heart with your doctor.
Remind customers to work directly with a medical professional to help prevent or treat health conditions that could lead to heart disease. Encourage them to bring a list of questions to their appointments and discuss their treatment plan regularly. If someone has already had a heart event, his or her health care team can work with them to help prevent future health problems.
3. Pump up your benefits with supplemental insurance.
Clients can be better prepared for an emergency by ensuring they have adequate insurance coverage. One way to help bolster their benefits is with supplemental insurance plans such as critical illness, hospital and disability coverage. In conjunction with one’s health insurance, supplemental coverage can help policyholders with expenses health insurance doesn’t cover, including medical expenses like deductibles or out-of-pocket costs as well as living expenses like rent or groceries. This can aid in reducing stress over finances and help individuals focus on getting better, rather than his or her shrinking bank account.
Brokers and agents should also remind clients that some supplemental insurance plans like critical illness coverage can help with the costs of tests performed as the result of preventive care, including diagnostic procedures ordered in connection with routine examinations. This encourages preventative care, helping clients get ahead of health issues.
Being there for the ones we love means prioritizing our heart health. With preventative steps, customers can help reduce their risk for heart disease and better safeguard their finances should an incident occur. And that’s something to sing about.
Wendy Herndon is second vice president of product launch and adoption at Aflac.