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The Importance of a quality Health Policy for your International Student-Athletes

May / 1 / 2014
By Borden Perlman Sports Department

As we all know, health care in the United States has changed and will continue to evolve in the years to come. With the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, adults are now mandated to have health insurance coverage in place or be subject to a financial penalty.  As a result of this federal statute, we in the Sports Accident Insurance business have seen a certain type of product wiped out of the market; the short term primary accident and sickness insurance plans for domestic student athletes. Now, student athletes are supposed to have primary coverage in place on an annual basis, removing the necessity of having short term medical plans all together. Although short term plans for domestic student athletes are falling by the wayside, the short term plans for international student athletes are still much a necessity.

Most Colleges have international student-athletes on their sports rosters. These student-athletes travel to the US on a study abroad visa with aspirations of receiving a top notch education and playing their sport of choice against high level opposition. In regards to the medical insurance these international students hold within their countries of residence, most of the time there is an absence of benefits while they are traveling or studying abroad. This is where short term accident and sickness policies for International Students become very important to an athletic insurance coordinator and the total athletic insurance budget.

Most of the time, international student-athletes are advised by the International Relations Office at their College as to which international student insurance policy to purchase while they are away at school. Many times, this insurance policy excludes inter-collegiate sports accidents or provides a max benefit amount of  $5,000.  For the majority of students at the school, this benefit means nothing, but for varsity student-athletes, it means a lot. Purchasing a plan with little or no college sports accident benefits can dramatically hurt the secondary (or excess) insurance policy in which the athletic department purchases to cover sports accidents.

Lets look at why. Here are 2 scenarios:

  • Student Athlete A
    • Has a policy with $5,000 max benefit on ICS injuries
    • Injures his knee and needs surgery
    • Medical Bills exceed $50,000
    • Max his primary insurance policy will pay is $5,000
    • Secondary insurance policy of the school will cover the remaining bills, in turn increasing claims totals and future insurance premiums
  • Student Athlete B
    • Has a policy with Unlimited benefit on ICS injuries
    • Injures his knee and needs surgery
    • Medical Bills exceed $50,000
    • Primary Insurance policy will pay according to policy limits on specific services but has no benefit limit
    • Secondary insurance policy of the school will have to pay out far less, thus saving the school money in the long run on insurance premiums

This is one example of how good international student-athlete primary insurance can be the difference between increasing or decreasing excess accident insurance premiums in the future.  Rather than having the International Relations office at a school handle the insurance for international student-athletes, we recommend the athletic department having a hand in finding the best solution for international student-athlete insurance, for it is their budget that will be effected if the wrong choices are made.

Borden Perlman Sports Insurance

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