Last Modified: Wednesday, July 09, 2014 11:23 AM
The Calcasieu Parish School Board unanimously voted Tuesday to eliminate the district’s student athletic insurance policy because of rising premium costs and budget constraints. Board members Chad Guidry, Mack Dellafosse and Jim Karr were not in attendance.
Parents must now provide proof of insurance or Medicaid or buy a voluntary policy through the school in order for their child to participate in athletics. Skylar Giardina, district risk manager, said the district’s definition of school athletes includes all middle and high school athletes, student managers and trainers, cheerleaders, dance line, pep squad, band, flag team, and other students participating or supporting interscholastic competition.
Giardina said the district’s premium cost rose to $697,710 for the 2014-15 school year from $585,500 last year. The budgeted amount for the 2014-15 fiscal year was $300,000, she said.
“The responsibility has always been on the parent,” she said. “This has just been something the School Board has been able to afford to provide, but now we can’t. The parents are used to seeing this voluntary policy because it goes out every year in the student packet. It’s the same policy; it just also covers sports where it didn’t have to before because we had the compulsory policy.”
The recommendation for the board to eliminate the plan came from a committee that was asked to research options to reduce premium costs. Giardina said the committee, which only met twice last December and in May, was composed of middle and high school coaches from 14 area schools.
Aaron McDonald, assistant principal at Moss Bluff Middle, was a part of the committee and said it looked at various options and focused on the statistics of students who didn’t have insurance. “We had $300,000 to come up with a plan,” he said. “We looked at what we had offered our student athletes for the last 15-plus years, and those expenses were outside of that realm greatly. That expense was going to continue to climb for years to come. We looked at our neighboring districts that are comparable in size to us, and they went the voluntary route.”
Giardina said only 3.5 percent of district students (about 182) don’t have insurance. Giardina said she expects that number to be lower now because of the Affordable Care Act.
She said the district shopped multiple carriers and that all the bids came back roughly the same price. She said officials also looked at cutting benefits drastically from the policy but that the price was still over budget at $495,000.
“We just couldn’t see the School Board even paying $495,000 for a policy that is really only needed for a small percentage of the population,” she said.
The eliminated policy will also affect non-athlete students as well. The previous policy covered students who were injured during school hours such as during recess or physical education classes. Giardina said, however, only student athletes will be required to have insurance.
Additionally, she said, the voluntary policy doesn’t cover as much as the district’s policy did. “The voluntary policy is not as rich of a plan as before,” she said. “Last year, the district’s policy paid 100 percent of reasonable customary and only had one limit. This is a substantially lower plan. There is a 70 percent plan and a 60 percent plan with built-in limits. So ultimately if you are uninsured, the parent is ultimately going to be left with the balance that they are responsible for.”
Giardina said the voluntary policy can be purchased for any student even if he or she has health insurance. Prices range from $35 for non-football athletes to $325 for football players. Giardina said football players have the highest premiums because of the risks associated with the sport.
Posted By: Doug On: 7/9/2014
This new development is so ridiculous. All schools everywhere should be required to either provide insurance free of charge to its athletes, or shut down all such programs.