Newsroom | 25 May 2016

Cigna Survey: U.S. Workers Rely on Good Intentions More Than Disability Coverage to Protect Financial Health


Cigna Corporation
Jim Angstadt, 215-761-8748

  • Seventy-two percent of American workers agree something can be done to protect against an injury or illness that keeps them from working, but few consider ways to protect their financial health if they had to go without a paycheck
  • About two out of five American workers worry about unexpected medical costs
  • Employees are twice as likely to choose benefits that can protect their financial health if those benefits are offered by their employer

PHILADELPHIA, 25 May, 2016 - Nearly half of American workers (47 percent) say they love their jobs and 10 percent would continue to work even if they won the lottery, according to a Cigna survey of workplace attitudes. However, the Cigna survey, recognizing Disability Insurance Awareness Month, also revealed that most American workers don’t have an adequate plan for sustaining an income should they be unable to work due to a disabling illness or injury.

More than 1.5 million workers suffered injuries or illnesses in 2014 that required absences from work, job transfers or restrictions at work,i and the Cigna survey found that most workers (72 percent) say they are taking proactive steps to guard against such circumstances. While good intentioned, many of the actions workers said they were taking could fall short if they were out of work and unable to earn an income for more than a few days.

“American workers are on the right track when they say they are making healthier choices and even saving money to prepare for the possibility they could be out of work for more than just a few days if they were sick or injured,” said Mark Marsters, senior vice president for Cigna's disability insurance business. “Beyond the costs of medical treatment, if recovery required time away from work, paying for everyday bills or for extras like child care, transportation or home maintenance could become a challenge.”

The most popular actions workers say they have taken within the past six months to financially protect themselves against an unexpected illness or injury are:

  • Trying to be healthy to avoid an illness (51 percent),
  • Saving more money (35 percent), and
  • Taking precautions to become more safety conscious (33 percent).

However, only one in ten survey participants said they bought additional disability insurance or purchased supplemental insurance products like critical illness, accidental injury or hospital indemnity insurance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statisticsii, only 39 percent of private industry workers have short-term disability insurance and even fewer – 33 percent – have long-term disability coverage, suggesting that employees may be placing too much confidence in strategies that don’t include insurance coverage.

The survey revealed that many workers get a sense of pride from working (63 percent), a sense of accomplishment (57 percent) and also enjoy their relationships with people at work (52 percent). Being away from work can also mean more than losing a paycheck, reinforcing the importance of having support services to help in returning to work as soon as individuals are able.

“In addition to more financial protection, disability insurance offers access to resources and support services so workers don’t go through the recovery process alone and can return to work when they’re ready,” Marsters said.

Medical costs worrying American workers

In Cigna's study, 44 percent of American workers said that they worry about how they might pay for medical costs not covered by their medical plan. With two-thirds of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck, costs associated with a hospital admission can be an unexpected challenge to an individual’s finances.iii

Having disability and voluntary coverages offers workers additional financial protection as well as access to vocational coaches and other valuable resources to help them return to work as quickly and safely as possible. Many disability plans provide services to help employees with potentially disabling conditions stay at work, and pay partial disability benefits that enable employees to work part-time or on a modified-duty basis as they recover from a disability. When return to work isn’t an option, insurers offer assistance with application for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

Employers Influential in Workforce Decisions

Employers may play an influential role in helping employees build their financial safety net. In the Cigna study, employees who are offered disability insurance, critical illness insurance, accidental injury insurance or hospital indemnity insurance are nearly twice as likely to see how these products can help provide additional financial protection than workers who don’t have these benefit options available.

Employers can use that influence to enhance educational materials about benefit options. For example, when asked about benefits they would want if a disabling injury or illness were to occur, only 47 percent of those surveyed said disability insurance. Nearly as many, 39 percent, said they would turn to sick time or Family & Medical Leave (FML) for help. However, the Family & Medical Leave Act doesn’t provide any financial assistance as it is a federal law requiring employers to provide employees job-protection and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons.

“Through the support of employers, brokers and insurers working together, American workers can make better benefit choices and ultimately have access to the resources they need to stay productive and healthy, while also protecting their financial health,” said Marsters.

About the Survey

The online survey commissioned by Cigna, was conducted by TNS, a part of the Kantar Group which is a division of WPP Worldwide, included responses from 1,389 full and part-time employed Americans 18 years of age or older. Interviews took place during the week April 18, 2016. The sampling error for this study is +/- 4 percent. Cigna last surveyed U.S. workers about their view of Live to Work, Work to Live attitudes in 2010.

About Cigna

Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America, Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York, and their affiliates. Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products including group life, accident and disability insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions, and has more than 90 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit

i Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Employer-Reported Workplace Injury and Illness Summary - 2014,
ii Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Workers with disability insurance plans,
iii American Payroll Association, “Getting Paid in America Survey,” 2014.