Youth Sports: What They Could Cost You, Your Insurance, And Your Child

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Photo from Robert Batina

In healthcare, it’s common knowledge that costs soar the older you get. But that doesn’t mean your children are immune from costly claims. The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) released data this week showing that kids in the 5-14 age groups accounted for more injuries than any other demographic when it came to most sporting activities. The two data sets that really stood out came from the worlds of gymnastics and football.

 

Gymnastics

By far, the per capita leader for injuries in the United States were children, ages 5-14. According to I.I.I.’s report. There are approximately 5.1 million participants each year in this sport and 26,371 reported injuries. Of that number, the 5-14ers comprise a staggering 67.5 percent of the total, with the 15-24 age group number two at 23.5 percent. Altogether, pre-teens, teenagers, and young adults were responsible for 91 percent of the overall injury reports.

 

Football

While the per capita number was lower for the 5-14 group in football, the total number of injuries was much higher. Each year, approximately nine million participants take part in the game with resulting injuries totaling 467,731. Of that number, the 5-14 crowd accounts for 50 percent while the 15-24 classification claims an additional 40.1 percent. Once again, that’s more than 90 percent of the overall health burden falling on individuals under the age of 24, or, usually, their parents (if the child is still on their parents’ insurance as the new Affordable Care Act allows until age 26). Either way, it can produce some pretty hefty costs.

 

How Injury Was Defined

The numbers from I.I.I., compiled initially by the National Safety Council, were taken from actual emergency room visits. A recent expose from the Atlantic revealed that the average cost of a visit to the ER was around $2,168 in the US. “But the interquartile range (IQR), which represents the difference between the 25th and 75th percentile of charges, was $1,957,” the news site reported, “meaning many patients were paying a lot more or a lot less than that.” http://bit.ly/1dUz1gZ

(The numbers were derived from a sampling of 8,000 patients in the United States.)

Putting pen to paper, that means with just football and gymnastics alone, American families were subject to 445,424 emergency room incidents involving children or young adults in a 365-day period. Multiply that times the average cost of $2,168 per ER visit, and you’ve got a $965.6 million healthcare burden each year just from two sports.

Factor in other sports like basketball (536,840 injuries / 81.2 percent injury rate), cycling (540,339 / 56.1 percent), soccer (214,053 / 80.6 percent), softball (107,033 / 59 percent), and swimming (205,662 / 60.6 percent), and you’ve got around 1,099,350 additional ER visits for a total of $2.383 billion. Add that to our first total, and healthcare costs from just these seven sports result in more than $3.2 billion in ER healthcare costs annually.

While families with health insurance aren’t responsible for the entirety of that bill, it’s easy to see how youth sports can influence the overall price of a family premium. But there’s another area that is more important than the financials:

 

Your Child’s Health

Children can, and often do, experience injuries in youth sports that significantly affect the trajectory of their lives. These injuries can also make healthcare a greater financial burden on them much sooner than it otherwise would be if they avoided the sports field altogether.

Still, it’s unrealistic to think that kids will hear this and run for their nearest textbook. Life is full of risks, and ultimately, the benefits of exercise far outweigh the results of avoiding it. That’s why it is important for parents and children to be aware of the dangers, and what the resulting repercussions might mean financially and physically. By learning the rules of the game and practicing safety, you and your child can avoid the hazards.

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