Even though you may be young and healthy, accidents happen. Especially if you’re participating in a high-risk collegiate sport. The NCAA reports that more than 460,000 NCAA student-athletes—more than ever before—currently compete in 24 sports. Having insurance isn’t a nice-to-have in case of an injury or emergency; in order to participate in any intercollegiate sport, the NCAA requires member institutions to certify their athletes have insurance coverage for medical expenses resulting from athletically related injuries.
So how do I get sports coverage?
The most common ways for college athletes to get sports insurance coverage are:
- Coverage as a dependent under a parent/guardian group insurance program. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, group insurance plans are required to extend coverage to adult dependents through age 26.
- School supplied student health insurance plans that cover injuries related to participation in intercollegiate sports.
- Individual health insurance coverage procured through the Affordable Care Act at www.healthcare.gov.
- Your institutions sports accident insurance policy.
What is a Sports Accident Insurance Policy?
Even though you have insurance, that doesn’t mean your plan will cover 100% of your bills. Most plans require you to share in the cost of your care by paying a deductible, copay and/or coinsurance. This means you will likely be responsible for some out-of-pocket expenses. It’s important to know that many colleges purchase what’s called a sports accident insurance policy. These policies are designed to provide secondary medical coverage for college athletes injured while practicing or competing in a college-sponsored sport.
Let’s say you’re injured playing in a college football practice. If you have your own health insurance coverage—maybe as a dependent on a parent’s plan or your school’s student health insurance plan—then you must be sure to follow the guidelines of your health plan first. Once you have exhausted coverage under your insurance plan you can then send any balances you owe (deductible, copay, coinsurance) to the college’s sports accident plan.
Secondary college sports insurance coverage helps lower your out-of-pocket expenses
Think of your personal health insurance being the primary coverage and your college’s sports insurance plan being the secondary coverage. Your personal insurance (primary) pays first and then the college’s sports insurance plan (secondary) would pay second. When your primary insurer sends those bills asking you to pay your share of the bill like a deductible, copay or coinsurance you can just send those charges to your college sports insurance plan for processing.
Not all insurance is the same
Not all insurance plans are the same and limitations of coverage vary so be sure to check the details of your primary health insurance plan to be sure it covers intercollegiate sports injuries. Remember, sports accident insurance policies are not “health insurance.” For example, they do not cover sickness; If you get sick, you will need to use your personal health insurance plan or check to see if your college has a student health center on campus. It’s a good idea to always coordinate with your college athletic department to be sure you are properly navigating their sports insurance program.
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