Iowa program provides concussion insurance for high school athletes

Iowa program provides concussion insurance for high school athletes
World-Herald News Service

With the school year starting and fall sports about to begin, the Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation have launched an insurance program for high school athletes who suffer possible concussions while participating in boys high school sports during the 2018-19 school year.

Coverage began on Aug. 1, 2018, and will expire on Aug. 1, 2019.

The IHSAA is the seventh state association to establish such a program, according to Chris Cuellar, communications director.

HeadStrong Concussion Insurance will provide coverage for concussion assessment and treatment for male and female athletes in grades nine through 12 participating in interscholastic boys’ sports sanctioned by the IHSAA, if no other insurance is available, according to the IHSAA website. Athletes’ families would have no deductible or copay, and Farm Bureau would pay the premiums.

The program does not cover girls sports, because those are sanctioned by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, Cuellar said. However, girls who cross over and participate in boys sports are included.

“It’s freshmen through varsity; it’s practice or play,” he said. “We’re already getting positive feedback from athletic trainers and some athletic directors.”

Jake Stryker, an athletic trainer for Jennie Edmundson Sports Medicine who serves Glenwood Community High School, said the program is “definitely a good idea.”

“There are concussions throughout the school year in a variety of sports,” he said. “Having the program available should remove the financial burden for some of those students.”

While Jennie generally provides concussion assessment and management services free of charge, it recommends that students get checked by their family physicians after a concussion, Stryker said.

If a family has coverage under another insurance carrier, that would be the primary insurance, the IHSAA website states. However, HeadStrong would still pick up deductibles and co-pays and covered services that are denied by the primary insurance carrier.

Mike Hale, athletic director at Lewis Central High School, commended the Iowa Farm Bureau for sponsoring the program.

“You get a severe concussion … with medical visits and the way medical costs are now, it could cost some money,” he said.

In some cases, HeadStrong could provide access to care to students who might not otherwise be able to afford it, Hale said.

“I think people would be more likely to seek care for their kids if they had this,” he said.

It might also encourage more schools to follow protocols for assessing and caring for athletes with possible concussions, Hale said.

Claims must be signed by a school official — preferably one who is present when the injury occurs.

Nationwide Life Insurance Co. is the carrier, and K&K Insurance is acting as a third-party administrator, the website states. Dissinger Reed is the policy broker.

For more information, go to iahsaa.org and, under Information, click on Sports Medicine and Wellness.

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