Monday marked the first official day of practice for fall sports around Iowa, which kicks off the 2018-19 high school athletic year. And with it came a gift from the Iowa High School Athletic Association.
The association and the Iowa Farm Bureau announced a new HeadStrong Insurance program for all high school athletes for the 2018-19 school year. This includes males and females participating and practicing in IHSAA-sanctioned interscholastic sports, including baseball, basketball, bowling, non-competition cheerleading, cross country, football, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field and wrestling.
HeadStrong, developed to help student-athletes from the potential high costs of concussion treatments and follow-ups, provides “first-dollar” insurance coverage. It provides student-athletes with a $0 deductible and co-pay coverage for concussion assessment and any potential neurological follow-ups.
HeadStrong will serve as a secondary or excess policy to other primary insurance, but will become the primary insurance if no other is available to the student-athlete. The IHSAA is now the seventh state high school athletic association providing coverage for all of its participants, joining Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
The Iowa Farm Bureau is sponsoring the premium expense for every IHSAA participant. Coverage will run from Aug. 1, 2018, to Aug. 1, 2019. Nationwide Life Insurance is the carrier for this policy. K&K Insurance will serve as a third-party administrator.
“The IHSAA and the Iowa Farm Bureau believe providing this insurance puts Iowa at the forefront of providing quality care for student-athletes who sustain a concussion in one of our sanctioned sports,” Alan Beste, executive director of the IHSAA, said in a release.
“We hope this insurance removes the financial barrier students and their parents or guardians may have when it comes to seeking care for a concussion.”
Concussions have become a touchy subject in all athletics, but especially at the high school level. They are thought to be one of the causes of chronic traumatic encephalopathy — or “CTE” — a degenerative brain disease that stems from repetitive blows to the head. It is most often associated with football.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds in April signed a bill to update the state’s existing concussion law. House File 2442 requires all Iowa high schools to institute return-to-play and return-to-learn protocols to help student-athletes ease back into both school and athletic activities after a concussion.
Monday’s announcement is considered another positive development in the conversation as it pertains to Iowa high school athletics.
“This will be a positive for our kids,” Derek Summy, the head football coach at Des Moines Lincoln, told the Register on Monday morning. “We always lose a few kids each year because of those costs and risks, but this will help. This is a very good thing.
“We always tell our parents that football is as safe as it’s ever been. This will only help us be safer.”