Despite the fact that every third study that comes out seems to indicate that everything in our environment is trying to kill us with its noxious chemicals or fatty fat cells, it seems we are running around thinking everything is going to be just fine for us. According to a new survey, 62 percent of employees in the U.S. say, "[I]t's not likely they or a family member will be diagnosed with a serious illness like cancer." Well, that sounds totally plausible. Hey, maybe we should all start planning to retire together in Egypt. Apparently there's a lovely river there called Denial.
So, exactly how widespread is this illusion of eternal health? Very, if you believe this survey done by the insurance company Aflac. (Will it ever be possible for our brains to not read the name of this company using the voice of a duck?) They surveyed 1,900 people who make decisions about benefits at companies and 6,100 workers in the U.S. What they found—in addition to the 62 percent of us who believe no one in our family is going to fall serious ill—is that 55 percent of us think we're "not very or not at all likely to be diagnosed with a chronic illness, such as heart disease or diabetes." Ha. Sure, people die, but not the people I know.
Audrey Boone Tillman, who is the executive vice president of corporate services at Aflac, said we "might be overly optimistic when it comes to thinking a serious illness or accident is a remote possibility." Ya think? Considering that, according to the American Cancer Society, one in three women and one in two men is going to be diagnosed with cancer at some point, it hardly seems likely that 62 percent of families will be spared. Add to that the fact that one in six deaths is caused by coronary heart disease, as per the American Heart Association, and it seems even more unlikely that half the people in the U.S. are just going to waltz off to a nice death in their sleep at the ripe old age of 150. Don't people understand that the grim reaper has an iPhone and can find us and take us whenever he damn well pleases?
As unlikely as it is that these optimistic people will remain perfectly healthy, they'd better hope and pray they're right, because, according to the same survey, almost 60 percent of U.S. workers don't have a financial plan to deal with the unexpected. Terrific. This is all going to work out so well for everyone. We're just going to hum along fine, the picture of health, until one day at the age of 85 we're walking in the Walmart parking lot and are suddenly mowed down by a hovercraft, which kills us instantly and leaves no medical bills for our families. You know, basically in the same way all of our relatives have died before us.
Image via Buida Nikita Yourievich/Shutterstock.