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New Harris Survey Finds That Most Baby Boomers Underestimate Disability Risk

WASHINGTON, March 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Most Baby Boomers underestimate their risk of suffering a disability that would cause them to miss work for an extended period of time, according to a new survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). The survey also found that Baby Boomers are unaware of the most common causes of disability and are not too concerned about their risk of becoming disabled.

"Baby Boomers' lack of awareness of their risk of disability presents a significant threat to their financial security," said Karen Ignagni, President and CEO of AHIP. "When individuals underestimate their risk of disability, they are less likely to protect their income and are more vulnerable to the financial hardship that suffering a disability can cause."

The survey found that just over a third of Baby Boomers think the chances of becoming disabled due to illness or injury is 5 percent or less, a slight majority think the chances are 10 percent or less, and two-thirds think the chances are 20 percent or less. In reality, a worker has a 30% chance of suffering a disabling injury or illness causing him or her to miss three or more months of work before reaching retirement, according to the Social Security Administration.

The survey also found that nearly half (47 percent) of Baby Boomers say they are not too concerned about their chances of suffering a disabling illness or injury.

One of the reasons Baby Boomers underestimate their risk is because they are unaware of the most common causes of disability, mistakenly believing that injuries cause more disabilities than illnesses. According to the survey, Boomers believe the most common causes of disability are back, muscle or joint problems (26 percent), injuries on the job (18 percent) and injuries off the job (16 percent). In actuality, research shows that the most common causes of disability are illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

"The survey shows that Baby Boomers need to be better educated about the risks and causes of disability to ensure they take appropriate steps to protect themselves," said Humphrey Taylor, Chairman of the Harris Poll.

The survey did find that most Baby Boomers accurately believe they are more likely to suffer a disability than premature death and that most disabilities occur outside of the workplace.

This is the first in a series of surveys assessing Baby Boomers' awareness of and knowledge about disability income protection. A memo outlining the survey findings is available here: The entire survey questionnaire can be found here:

America's Health Insurance Plans - Providing Health Benefits to More Than 200 Million Americans

Harris Interactive conducted an online survey on behalf of AHIP between February 14 - 18 among a nationwide sample of 2,853 adults aged 18 and older, including 828 Baby Boomers aged 44 - 62. Data were weighted to be representative of the total U.S. adult population that is online on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income and race/ethnicity, and for propensity to go online. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

SOURCE America's Health Insurance Plans
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