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Valley College Athletes May Have to Pay Insurance to Save AthletIcs

Student-athletes may have to cover insurance costs as premiums rise.

By Lucas Thompson | Managing Editor
On November 22, 2011

The Los Angeles Community College District's athletic insurance policy has put the district on the hook for approximately $2.2 million this year.

The premium, which is up from $1.4 million in 2004, has seen a drastic increase due to a rise in the amount of insurance claims and an increased number of student-athletes who have no medical insurance. The insurance policy is in place as a secondary insurance for athletes who are injured while participating in an intercollegiate event. This means that if an athlete, whose insurance covers 70 percent of his or her medical costs, tears a shoulder ligament and is need of surgery, the school will pay the remaining 30 percent.

In an effort to cut back on these costs, Valley College recently entertained a presentation given by Kaiser Permanente for a campus- wide insurance policy that could be mandatory for student-athletes with no medical insurance to purchase. The policy would also be an available option to all students on campus, according to Valley Athletic Trainer and Advisory Board for Athletic Insurance committee member Angelo Cimity.

"[We] are looking into a low- cost insurance that would cover the student," Cimity said. "It would be just like the University level [and] it would last for the year. The reason is the premium for athletic insurance is so high."

Currently, with the exception of athletes with an HMO, the district's athletic policy covers any additional costs left over after the student's primary insurance pays the majority of medical costs. However, if a student- athlete has no medical insurance and is injured while participating in any sport, the district is responsible for covering all medical costs.

"That's where we got in trouble," Cimity said. "We started becoming the primary; that's what started bringing this up."

According to the Master Policy, athletes are currently covered "while participating as a member of a Policy holder-sponsored and supervised intercollegiate sport."

This means an athlete injured during any intercollegiate activity is covered by the school's policy for up to $25,000.

If a plan like the Kaiser Permanente presentation is implemented, student- athletes may be forced to pay for an insurance policy through the school in order to participate in athletics. The policy would be available to all students at Valley and would not only cover injuries during intercollegiate activity, but also all medical needs at a low cost, according to Cimity.

Despite the plan for it to be an affordable insurance policy for all student-athletes, some faculty members are concerned about the consequences of a mandatory insurance.

"I think it is a good idea because our insurance costs are so very expensive," said Valley Athletic Director Diedra Stark. "However, most of our students would not be able to afford a monthly insurance premium. I would not want any of our students to miss out on their intercollegiate athletic experience because they could not afford insurance. That would eliminate so many of our students."

Though the discussion of a mandatory insurance policy would be a major change throughout the campus, according to Cimity, this may be the solution to a very negative alternative: losing athletics.

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