The NCAA is currently sorting through how the different provisions of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a “Obamacare” or “Health Care Reform”) will affect college sports. While many people are still sorting through the different impacts of the various parts of the ACA, the NCAA has identified two big areas that will affect student-athletes:
For example, universities for years have offered health-care plans to their general student population, which could also be used by student-athletes. But the early implementation of ACA has already led some universities to consider dropping those plans.
The ACA will allow students to remain on their parents’ health-care plan until age 26, an increase from age 22, which could reduce the demand for those student health plans. And new coverage mandates in those plans have increased the cost by up to 200 percent at some universities for which [human resources consultant Jeff] Hadden consults. It’s already prompted three of Hadden’s university clients to drop their student plans.
The larger takeaway is that the ACA may slow the implementation of universal health care for athletes. Athletes may still get their injury insurance plans, but the NCAA allows Division I schools to purchase standard health care coverage for athletes, beyond just their athletically-related injuries. In fact the possibility of schools dropping health care plans for students has lead to emergency legislation in Division II to allow athletic departments to buy plans for athletes.
At some point, the hodgepodge of schools different plans, different health care exchanges, and relying on student-athletes to bring their own plans becomes untenable. Eventually it makes more sense for schools to have the NCAA explore whether it can purchase health insurance for all 450,000 student-athletes at a economical rate.