March 17, 2014
By Arpit Misra
While health benefits are derived from sports and recreational activities, there are also risks, including sports-related injuries. These injuries range from minor sprains and strains to more serious injuries such as broken bones and concussions. The direct medical bills resulting from sports injuries are substantial. The costs could be a heavy burden for individuals without health insurance coverage, who would not only lack protection against out-of-pocket costs but could also be forced to pay providers’ full stated charges, rather than the discounted prices generally offered to those with insurance. This issue brief describes the prevalence and cost of selected sports injuries.
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Significant health benefits are derived from sports and recreational physical activities. Many people, from young children to adults, participate in organized leagues and pickup games to play sports such as basketball, tennis, baseball, football and soccer. However, Americans frequently utilize the healthcare system for treatment of injuries resulting from everyday activities such as sports. Nearly 2 million people1 every year, many of whom are otherwise healthy, suffer sportsrelated injuries and receive treatment in emergency departments. Some sports-related injuries, such as sprained ankles, may be relatively minor, while others, such as head or neck injuries, can be quite serious.
The most common basketball injuries, for example, are leg fractures, and ankle or knee sprains. More than 570,000 basketball injuries were treated in emergency departments in 2012. The average charges for an adult range from $2,294 for a sprain to $7,666 for an arm fracture (Table 1) – amounts that individuals without health insurance, especially those who were not expecting to have any medical expenses, may have trouble paying out of pocket. This issue brief describes the prevalence and cost of selected sports injuries.
1 NEISS Data Highlights – 2012. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Bethesda, MD