Don’t Leave It To Government Alone

Jan 27, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for paid leave options that support caregivers. Unfortunately, because too many Americans lack paid leave benefits, they are facing an impossible choice – caring for their families or keeping their paycheck.

The life insurance industry stands for expanding access to paid leave. Helping people care for their loved ones is life insurers’ most critical mission. Paid leave is a major component in the full suite of financial security protections for families nationwide.

In this important area, there’s an opportunity for a partnership between the private and public sectors. Life insurers pay around $19 billion in disability income benefits (the medical component of paid family and medical leave) annually and help protect about 40% of private-sector workers from losing a paycheck when they are out of the workplace after welcoming a child or tending to a medical condition.

As the new Congress and Administration search for a permanent paid leave policy that will expand support for caregivers, it makes sense that legislative solutions include the ability for employers to provide coverage through private short-term disability income insurance or other private market tools. Private carriers have the experience and track record of delivering paid leave benefits quickly and efficiently.

Insurers have a long legacy of assessing risk to plan for the future. The actions taken now can help create a better future for millions of Americans by easing today’s economic burdens on caregivers.

Expanded access to paid leave will mean greater predictability in all households and especially for women. Women have been disproportionately impacted economically during the pandemic because they represent 61% of the caregivers in the United States. In one month last fall, four times as many women left the workforce than men.   

In December, the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) led a webinar with Capitol Hill staffers where we discussed building new policies with what’s been demonstrated to work through the private market. In the year ahead, ACLI is committed to working with lawmakers in the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House to find substantial and workable paid leave solutions for American workers and families.

Lauryl Jackson

Lauryl Jackson is Vice President, Federal Relations for Financial Income Security and Diversity & Inclusion for the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). Prior to joining ACLI in January 2020, she led government affairs strategy for the priorities of the pharmaceutical industry.