The Division 1A Athletic Directors’ Association is exploring options to reduce medical insurance costs for athletes by joining together in a new model.
The plan is to endorse a new model, called the “Student Athletes’ Enhanced Benefits Plan,” which, according to the company who developed it, would save approximately $282 million over an unspecified period of time, according to a report from CBS Sports’ Jon Solomon.
Currently, the NCAA requires that its athletes have insurance that covers the $90,000 deductible of the NCAA catastrophic injury program, which athletes can use should their medical bills exceed $90,000. The current model stipulates that the athlete, his or her parent or the university can pay for the insurance.
As it stands, each athlete’s insurance is acquired on a case-by-case basis according to the states, conferences and universities where the athlete competes. The case for a change is being spearheaded by former Rep. and Oklahoma football player J.C. Watts in conjunction with Marsh, an insurance brokerage and risk management company.
The new plan, outlined in Solomon’s report, would include the following protocols:
- Ensure no out-of-pocket expenses for players and their family for injuries that occurred while participating in college sports. Schools often pay a lot of these costs, but there are no requirements and some athletes get saddled with thousands of dollars in medical bills from injuries sustained in college.
- Provide health coverage to former athletes related to college sports injuries. The coverage would extend to the age of 26, which would be consistent with current Affordable Care Act requirements.
- Serve as the athlete’s primary medical coverage during college eligibility.
- Lower the cost of comprehensive basic injury, dental, vision and catastrophic health care coverage.
- Protect athletes from substantial and unexpected medical expenses, and help universities’ ability to respond in those cases.
- Add additional support to athletes through family travel benefits, financial literacy and career counseling programs, lifetime scholarships, and compatible cost of attendance stipends.
“I’m not one that says you should pay a player to play college football, but I don’t think a college athlete should have to pay to attend the University of Oklahoma when you don’t have the type of benefits these players should have,” Watts told Solomon. “And it’s not just the time they’re at Oklahoma but after they’ve left. Stadiums have gotten bigger (and) weight rooms have gotten bigger (while) the benefits have largely stayed the same.”
The NCAA has not been eager to support the plan, according to the report.
There is concern over whether the plan would be repetitive of the benefits already provided. But numerous athletic directors are behind the model, which may cause the NCAA to eventually support a comprehensive plan that will remove the variations in medical coverage from school to school.
“We want to be collaborative with them on it,” Tom McMillen, president of the athletic director’s association and supporter of the proposed model, told Solomon. “Obviously, the NCAA is a major player and there will have to be discussions there.”