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March Sanity: NCAA is trying to bridge the insurance coverage gap

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We all remember, and most of us would like to forget, the fateful game when an adored basketball player, Kevin Ware from the Louisville Cardinals, broke his leg on live TV during one of the NCAA games about two years ago. It’s no easy feat to get to the top 68 basketball teams in college, much less almost make it to the semifinals. But accidents and injuries happen all the time, especially in high stress environments like the NCAA championship.

But what happens if a student suffers an injury that leaves them disabled for the rest of their career and with thousands of dollars in medical bills? According to an article on, the NCAA requires all universities to verify that their student athletes have medical insurance before they compete or even practice with their teams. The organization also has an NCAA Catastrophic Insurance Program that offers benefits, but only for expenses above its $90,000 deductible. As such, the NCAA requires that student athletes’ personal policies cover expenses up to the program’s $90,000 deductible, explains. This leaves a gap between what the students’ personal medical insurance covers and what the universities’ medical insurance doesn’t cover.

The article says that the gap “results from the fact that each school is allowed to determine its own policies about how to handle student athletes’ medical expenses. Although universities are allowed to pay their student athletes’ deductibles, under NCAA legislation, the schools aren’t required to.”

Because the threat of injury is evident in any sport, and to help protect students and their futures, many people are calling on the NCAA to review and revise its policies on insurance coverage. And it seems its working: the organization is talking about it and discussing ways to get rid of the coverage gap or let athletes know that there is a gap in the first place.

Hopefully, the NCAA will make it a requirement for all student athletes to have enough health insurance coverage so that their families aren’t left paying thousands of dollars in medical bills and they can secure a better future. Also, benefit advisors should take care to inform and communicate with their clients if there is a gap, who pays for what and any other scenarios that might play out if there is an injury during the athlete’s career.

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