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Aflac Organizes Medical Debt Awareness Campaign

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What You Need to Know

  • The new short film was written and directed by Rob Edwards, an Academy Award nominee.
  • The company sponsored a care index survey that showed that 24% of insured Americans report having no savings at all.
  • The campaign includes a program to provide grants for people and communities hurt by medical debt.

Aflac — a company that sells insurance policies that fill in some of the holes in major medical insurance coverage — is sponsoring a medical debt awareness campaign.

The Columbus, Georgia-based insurer has started the Close the Gap campaign with three major components:

• An animated short film, “The Park Bench,” that was written and directed by Rob Edwards, who was nominated for the Academy Award for his script for Disney’s “Treasure Planet.”

• A new effort to communicate the results from its 2021 Aflac Health Care Issues survey, which showed that about 10% of U.S. households with health insurance face out-of-pocket medical costs over $1,500 per year, and 24% of the insured survey participants have no savings at all.

• A grant program for people and communities hurt by medical debt.

The medical debt burden is related to disparities in health and wealth in the U.S., and it has disproportionate effects on people of color and those in low-income communities, Aflac says.

The Close the Gap program “shines a light on people who fall in the gap where health insurance ends and medical bills begin to pile up,” Aflac says.

What It Means for Agents and Brokers

Disability insurers and other insurers have envied the power of the Aflac Duck for years.

If the new Close the Gap campaign is successful, it could buoy sellers of all supplemental health insurance products — such as accident insurance, hospital indemnity insurance, critical insurance and Medicare supplement insurance — that help consumers pay major medical insurance deductibles, co-payments and coinsurance amounts.

The campaign could also give retirement income planners new language for communicating with clients about pre-retirement and post-retirement health cost planning.

‘The Park Bench’

Aflac’s new short film, “The Park Bench,” features a husband, a wife and a daughter affected by a medical event that puts the father on crutches.

The Aflac Duck comes in to help the family through the crisis.

The film will stream at 7:30 pm. Eastern time on Twitch, and it will also stream on Roku.

At deadline, a version of the film was available on YouTube.

The Grants

Aflac said it would give $1 million in CareGrant support to families, individuals and organizations in 2022.

The company named the winners of 20 $5,000 grants in December.

In February, Aflac will expand the grant program and award grants to communities that appear, based on Aflac Care Index survey results, to be severely affected by medical debt.

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Pictured: “The Park Bench” shows the Aflac Duck helping a family affected by the father’s hospitalization. (Image: Aflac)