Americans overestimate how healthy they really are, according toa survey of 8,000 workers by ResearchNow and Aflac.

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According to the 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report, 62 percent of workerssaid they do not think it's likely they or a family member will bediagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer. More than half (55percent) said they believe it is unlikely they will be diagnosedwith a chronic illness, like heart disease or diabetes.

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Compare these numbers to actual statistics, and the differenceis staggering. While survey takers were right about diabetes—only8.3 percent of Americans currently have the disease, according tothe American Diabetes Assn.—they were wrong abouteverything else. One-third of women and one-half of men will bediagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, according tothe AmericanCancer Society. And about 1 in 6 U.S. deaths are caused bycoronary heart disease every year, according to the American HeartAssn..

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“The fact that American workers aren't aware of their medicalrisks and the potential financial impact of those risks is a veryreal concern that is only compounded when workers don't take fulladvantage of available benefits options or adjust their savingsstrategies to be more prepared,” said Audrey Boone Tillman, Aflacexecutive vice president of corporate services, in a press release.

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And because so many Americans have a false sense of security,the study reveals, many are financially unprepared should they bediagnosed with a serious illness. The report found thefollowing:

  • Nearly 58 percent of American workers don't have a financialplan to handle unexpected illnesses
  • Only 8 percent strongly agree their family will be financiallyprepared in the event of an unexpected emergency
  • About one-third have less than $500 in savings for emergencyexpenses.

The majority (57 percent) of respondents said they would need totap into savings to pay for an unexpected illness, 30 percent woulduse a credit card, and 19 percent would have to withdraw funds fromtheir 401(k) plans.

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The report also showed a desire among Americans to increasetheir preparedness, though. Nearly 60 percent of workers said theywould purchase voluntary health insurance plans—critical illness,short-term disability, or accident—if offered by theiremployer.

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