Companies that provide health insurance for athletes know that these people have special needs. Most are young and healthy but they are susceptible to injuries. Health insurance for professional athletes may also provide the appropriate coverage for college players who are headed for careers in their chosen sport.

Worldwide Coverage

Athletes, especially those who play professionally, usually travel. They are apt to play in any state in the U.S. and many compete in other countries. It is essential that athletes have appropriate coverage in both national and international travel destinations so that the best medical care can be provided, if needed. Policies should cover treatment for injuries related to the athlete’s sport, although coverage for injuries caused by high-risk activities might be excluded from some policies.

The subject of pre-existing conditions often comes up in a discussion of health insurance for athletes; whether this kind of coverage is included in a policy often has much to do with price. For example, a pro football player may have had successful arthroscopic knee surgery three years ago and is now fully recovered. An insurer may choose not to cover the player even though he has recovered completely and is not a risk for filing a claim. The athlete is deemed ineligible for a preferred risk rating and will not be offered the lowest price for healthcare coverage.

Pricing to Consider

Health insurance for athletes is not available from all providers, and when it is the price can vary sharply from state to state. Long-term coverage may take days or weeks before it becomes effective, but short-term healthcare insurance, which offers the lowest premiums, can usually be issued quickly through an online enrollment process. While lower rates are currently available to young, healthy athletes, new healthcare reform laws may change the entire landscape of medical insurance. What happens to coverage and premiums remains to be seen.

 What to Look For

An athlete who needs coverage quickly should select a short-term health insurance plan. If he or she is going to play outside the U.S., a separate international policy is available. This is a good idea wheninternational trips are taken on a limited basis for specific reasons, such as a tennis tournament or an exhibition football game. The athlete may also want to have a policy that includes wellness benefits, such as coverage for an annual exam.

Career-ending Injuries

Injuries come with any kind of sport and some, even those that are relatively minor, can put an end to an athlete’s career. Most insurance companies do not offer disability coverage since the risk of injury is so high. However, some do provide high-limit coverage for professional athletes as well as for college stars who are going to go pro. Each kind of sport will usually have its own guidelines for underwriters to follow and many offer multiple benefits. For example, if a professional athlete sustains an injury, he or she may be covered for projected future earnings, loss of endorsements, the cost of retaining an agent or manager, and other expenses. Given the many aspects involved, comparison shopping is a worthwhile endeavor when it comes to choosing health insurance for athletes.