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Men aren’t paying enough attention to their personal health care and they’re particularly tight lipped when it comes to mental health, according to the newly released Aflac Men’s Health Survey. The study of 1,000 U.S. men reveals fewer than half, 47%, had an annual checkup or wellness visit either virtually or in person in the past 12 months. Additionally, just 37% had a routine dental exam and only 29% had a routine eye exam in the past year. At the same time, 1 in 4 men admitted they’ve never talked to anybody about their mental health and well-being despite 72% of respondents stating they experienced some type of mental or behavior health concern in the past 12 months alone.

“The last two years have been incredibly challenging, and many people delayed doctor’s visits and procedures due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, even now as pandemic conditions have eased, this study shows that many men are still avoiding health care and need a wake-up call about their health priorities,” said Aflac Senior Vice President of Distribution Expansion and Consumer Markets Jeramy Tipton. “Many men press snooze on important opportunities to proactively screen for and avert illnesses, which could help prevent more serious and costly health issues in the future.”

According to respondents, the majority of men are experiencing mental or behavioral health concerns, yet many sidestep conversations about these important health issues. Anxiety, trouble sleeping and depression were most commonly reported in the study, and 49% of men said these concerns affect their productivity at home or work. Additional key findings:

Generation gap

A full 79% of Gen Z and millennial men reported having a mental or behavioral health concern within the past year, compared to 57% and 68% among Gen X and baby boomers. Gen Z and millennials were also more likely to report that mental health affected their productivity at home and work.

Concern about costs

Men from the study who said they worry about finances were more likely to experience a behavioral or mental health concern, 78% compared to 56% who were not that worried or not worried at all about finances. Additionally, roughly two out of five men, 38%, postponed or avoided going to a doctor or filling a prescription because of the medical costs — even higher among millennials, 49%. Still more, 26%, feel they don’t have enough insurance to cover all of their medical needs.

“Even with health insurance, there are out-of-pocket costs that many people aren’t able to pay,” explained Tipton. “Aflac is meeting today’s rapidly changing benefit needs with flexible coverage that helps take care of expenses health insurance doesn’t cover. Insured individuals can use their benefits to help with medical co-pays, deductibles and prescriptions or everyday living expenses like rent, utilities or child care. We make wellness benefits, telemedicine and more available as value-added services to encourage individuals to take advantage of annual checkups.”

Procrastination sounds better than discussing final expenses like funeral costs

Final expense planning was also a touchy issue for many men, according to the study. Most of the men surveyed, between 59% and 68%, admitted they’d rather clean out their garage, mow the grass, finish a honey-do list or take out the trash than talk about final expenses with their loved ones. One-third also admitted they don’t know how they’ll pay for final expenses, such as funeral costs, should anything happen to themselves or an immediate family member. Similar to mental health concerns, one-fifth of men reported never discussing final expenses with anybody.

Access to health care

Access to quality health care is also a concern. Millennials were more likely to state they believe this is often determined by one’s race, 38% compared to roughly 28% among other age groups. Millennials also believe that access to quality health care is often determined by one’s gender, 32% compared to 8% and 23% among baby boomers and Gen X respectively.

Men want help, but require more motivation 

Men expressed strong interest in tools or additional benefits coverage to support their mental health and wellness: 62% would be interested in using some form of help or coverage to support their mental health and wellness that they do not currently use or have available, including access to a doctor, psychologist or counselor online, mental health care insurance and screenings, and apps to track mood and set health reminders. Men also called out the women in their life, wife or girlfriend, and mother as the most notable influences motivating them to see a doctor besides themselves.

“While it may be something they’d rather delay, having these very important mental health and financial planning conversations could make a world of difference for improved well-being, productivity and financial security for men and their families. Taking a look at your benefits and supplemental insurance that includes mental health care and financial planning resources is a really good first step,” Tipton said.   

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