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Are Cultural Expectations Increasing Men's Health Risks?

June is National Men's Health month, which is devoted to raising awareness of men's health issues and encouraging men to take better care of their health. Cultural expectations often discourage men from admitting to sickness or injury, and this may put them at higher risk. In addition, many people are unaware about symptoms of health problems, ways to lower health risks and their own family health history.

Father exercising at home with his two young daughters

Cleveland Clinic surveyed men nationwide as part of their annual MENtion It® educational campaign to explore men's attitudes toward health. The 2022 survey found:

  • Although men have concerns about their health, they are not proactive about it. More than half do not get regular health checkups.
  • Men often are unaware of symptoms that can lead to serious health issues.
  • More than half of men don't know their complete family history regarding cancer or urological problems.
  • Misconceptions about health issues are common.
  • About a third have never had a screening for prostate, bladder, or testicular cancer.

The biggest health risks for men

According to Tenet Health, men are at risk for developing a chronic health condition earlier than women, due to:

  • Lifestyle and social factors, such as smoking, alcohol and substance abuse, stress, lack of exercise, unhealthy diet, and lack of preventive health care.
  • Biology, including hormonal, metabolic and genetic differences.
Mens health risks infographic

With early diagnosis and treatment, most of these conditions can be managed or cured. However, men are less likely to get regular medical checkups or seek care when they first notice symptoms, which reduces the chances of early intervention.

Why are so many men reluctant to get care?

Studies by Harvard, Rutgers, Cleveland Clinic and numerous other organizations over the past decade point to the following reasons:

  • Going to the doctor is not convenient. Many men say it's difficult to take time off work.
  • They have been taught not to complain. More than 40% of men were taught as children that complaining about health issues or admitting to sickness or injury can be a sign of vulnerability and weakness.
  • Exams are uncomfortable. Many men may avoid invasive screenings because they may make men feel vulnerable.
  • Doctor's visits can be costly. A U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) report found that only 8% of Americans lacked health insurance in 2022. However, even many with health coverage are nervous about out-of-pocket costs.
  • They may be afraid of the truth. More than a third of respondents admitted to not being completely honest about their symptoms because they didn't want to face a diagnosis or treatment.

What can you do to encourage your employees to get regular health care?

Employers can help address many of the factors that discourage men from getting the health care they need, such as lack of information, fear of cost and inconvenience.

  • Offer health benefits. Many studies have shown that people without health insurance are less likely to receive preventive care. Having health benefits that cover preventive care makes a huge difference. In addition, supplemental benefits such as accident, critical illness and cancer insurance can take the financial sting out of a doctor's visit and treatment.
  • Nurture a stigma-free company culture where employees know they are valued and feel safe taking care of themselves. Give your employees "permission" to take time off for medical and mental health care when needed.
  • Make sure your health benefits include telehealth services, like Walmart Health Virtual Care. Telehealth services are often a more convenient and cost-effective way to access health services. Walmart Health Virtual Care offers convenient access to virtual Urgent Care for minor illness and injuries and to virtual Talk Therapy (ages 18+) for mental health counseling.1 Walmart Health Virtual Care is available with the Self-Funded Program through Allstate Benefits.
  • Include articles in your employee newsletter, or sponsor health fairs and events, to help educate your employees about common health issues and the importance of regular health checkups. This will help encourage them to stay up to date with recommended vaccinations and health screenings.
  • Include a wellness program like Vitality® with your self-funded plan through Allstate Benefits. Vitality educates your employees about health topics and encourages participation in healthy, stress-reducing activities. It encourages healthy habits that can have a permanent impact on your employees' lives. In fact, 90% of members say Vitality has made them more aware of their health. In addition, members who are highly engaged in the Vitality program reduce their claims by up to 19%.

Contact a sales representative to learn more about how Allstate Benefits can help your employees stay as healthy as possible.

1Walmart Health Virtual Care is not available in WA, except with Core Value plans.

The Self-Funded Program through Allstate Benefits provides tools for employers owning small to mid-sized businesses to establish a self-funded health benefit plan for their employees. The benefit plan is established by the employer and is not an insurance product. Allstate Benefits is a marketing name for: Integon National Insurance Company in CT, NY and VT; Integon Indemnity Corporation in FL; and National Health Insurance Company in CO, WA and all other states where offered. For employers in the Allstate Benefits Self-Funded Program, stop loss insurance is underwritten by these insurance companies in the noted states.

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