As Americans continue staying home and practicing social distancing, many men are opting to skip shaving, leading to a wave of so-called quarantine beards and mustaches. However, this November, facial hair will take on another meaning for the many men who participate in “Movember” or “No Shave November” — nonprofit campaigns aiming to raise awareness of and funds for causes like testicular and prostate health.

These causes are a good connection point for business owners to not only raise awareness of these important causes, but also discuss the need for employees to proactively protect their health and financial well-being.

Avoid giving health a fade

The COVID-19 pandemic led many Americans to postpone doctors’ appointments and routine health screenings. In fact, a recent  Cleveland Clinic study found nearly half of men (48%) have put off seeing a doctor for non-COVID-19-related health issues over the last few months, and among younger men ages 18-34, this number jumps to 56%.1

While this year has been anything but routine, it is still critical to receive annual checkups. For men, this includes tests for ailments like prostate and testicular cancer, especially considering that the average age of a testicular cancer diagnosis is 33.2

Men are also more likely than women to develop lung and colorectal cancer.3,4 However, recent studies show that screenings for colon cancer dropped by nearly 90% after the declaration of a national emergency earlier this year.5 While it can be difficult to think about these illnesses, routine doctor visits can help catch issues early before they become larger problems.

What can employers do? One solution to help promote workers’ wellness is offering supplemental insurance plans that provide a benefit for proactive care. For example, some cancer and accident policies have a wellness or health screening benefit for getting an annual physical, prostate screening or even a COVID-19 test. Cash benefits are paid directly to the insured for eligible claims, unless otherwise assigned, even if your health insurance already covers it.

Buzzing away out-of-pocket expenses

An illness like cancer is not just emotionally draining, but even with health insurance, it can also be financially straining. In fact, the impact of out-of-pocket medical expenses is staggering, according to the 2020 Aflac Health Care Issues Survey: 42% of respondents said they faced out-of-pocket costs of $1,000 or more beyond a copay or deductible during their most recent hospital visit, up from 35% in 2019. This led 28% to postpone seeing a medical professional, 27% to rely on a credit card, 17% to pick up extra work hours/shifts and 13% to take out a loan to help offset medical expenses.6

One solution may be supplemental insurance like critical illness and cancer insurance, which provide cash benefits in the event of a covered illness to help with the expenses health insurance doesn’t cover. Not only can it help with an initial diagnosis, but it also can help provide financial assistance through treatment — even nonsurgical options like immunotherapy — as well as a benefit payable after an insured is declared cancer-free.

A whisker in time

November’s health focus is a great time to remind employees about the importance of being proactive about their health and ensuring they are financially prepared in the event of a diagnosis — whether you embrace the ‘stache or not.

Bob Ruff is senior vice president of Growth Solutions. He is responsible for the development and execution of key growth initiatives for Aflac U.S., including product development, enrollment, business development and market development.

1 Cleveland Clinic. “Cleveland Clinic ‘Coping with COVID’ Survey Illustrates the Mental and Physical Toll the Pandemic is Taking on Men.” Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.

2 American Cancer Society. “Key Statistics for Testicular Cancer.” Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.

3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “United States Cancer Statistics: Data Visualizations.” Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.

4 American Cancer Society. “Key Statistics for Colorectal Cancer.” Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.

5 Cancer Health. “COVID-19 Leads to Drop in Cancer Diagnosis.” Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.

6 The 2020 Aflac Health Care Issues Survey is a national online survey of 1,138 U.S. adults fielded in August 2020 by Hill+Knowlton Strategies. Learn more at

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation for insurance. Aflac includes Aflac and/or Aflac New York.

Movember stock photo by Morocko/Shutterstock