Aflac Survey Asks Americans, 'What Seems Risky to You?'

Staff Report

Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

Most Americans, especially those with more income and education, are more concerned about mental health than challenges over the economy, the political environment or COVID-19. A surprising percentage of employees are ready to quit their jobs and start a business, and budget cutting due to the economy is reducing financial support for charity, friends and family only half as much as household spending. These are some of the findings of the recently released 2022 Aflac Risk Survey of 1,644 American adults. A leading provider of supplemental health insurance in the U.S., the $22 billion supplemental insurance company annually surveys Americans on matters of topical importance. 

Other findings from this year's survey include:

  • Nearly 90% of Americans list proactively managing risks to mental health as a priority compared to 80% who are concerned about the state of the U.S. economy, 61% who are concerned about the effects of politics on their household, and 54% who are concerned about the impact of COVID-19.

  • About 57% of Americans with incomes over $150,000 reported that "proactively managing risks to your and your family's mental health" has grown in importance over the last couple of years versus only 40% with incomes of $35,000 and under, pointing to a potential mental health equity gap.

  • Nearly 1 in 6 Americans are somewhat or very likely to quit their jobs and start a business, including more than half of self-reported "absolute risk-takers." For those whose likelihood of starting their own business has changed in the past couple of years, more than 4 in 10 are more likely to do so, meaning that while people want to work, they don't necessarily want to work for another company.

  • While 9 out of 10 of those making changes in household budgets are cutting their own spending, less than half are reducing the support they provide to friends, families and charitable causes they care most about.

"After a major pandemic, economic challenges, social justice anxieties and political unrest, Americans are reassessing their approach to mental health, seeing it as a greater risk to themselves and their families than it was just two years ago," said Aflac Senior Vice President of Group Voluntary Benefits Bob Ruff. "How people manage these risks has a lot to do with their income and education, showcasing the likelihood of a health care gap for mental illness that must be addressed."

In 2022, Aflac added mental health components to several products in response to a growing need for access to emotional and mental stress mitigation tools. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, 21%, or nearly 53 million U.S. adults, experienced mental illness in 2020, and 46% of adults with mental illness received treatment. Serious mental illness causes $193.2 billion in lost earnings each year.1

"The last two years have awakened an entrepreneurial spirit among Americans, particularly those who self-identify as 'risk takers," said Aflac Senior Vice President of Distribution Expansion and Consumer Markets Jeramy Tipton. "While it seems that people want to work, they don't all necessarily want to work for someone else, which will have a significant impact on how people will obtain health care benefits potentially through consumer-directed platforms as the gig economy continues to grow. It is important to note, however, that risk-taking does not equal recklessness. These individuals take great care to manage risk since they know they cannot avoid it."

Aflac currently provides many consumer-directed products, including those for Cancer, Critical Illness, Accident, Final Expense Whole Life and Medicare Supplement. The company plans to add additional consumer-directed products to the roster of available policies in 2022 and 2023.

The 2022 Aflac Risk Survey was conducted online July 8-9, 2022, among 1,644 American adults age 18 and older. Completed interviews were weighted by age, sex and geographic region to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. adult population. Complete survey results are available at