Federal health officials have a message for young athletes: You are not invincible.
Each year, about 12 million Americans age 5 to 22 are injured while playing sports, according to a March 2014 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Those sprains, strains, fractures, dislocations and concussions result in 20 million lost days of school and $33 billion in healthcare costs.
Additionally, sports-related injuries accounted for nearly 2 million emergency room visits in 2012, including about 1 in 5 trips to ER among children age 6 to 19, HHS reported.
“While health benefits are derived from sports and recreational activities, there are also risks,” the report concluded. “The direct medical bills resulting from sports injuries are substantial.”
For example, the average medical cost for treating a 10 to 19 year old with a fractured arm is almost $2,900. The price tag for a dislocation nears $7,000, officials said.
The report was released to coincide with March Madness, the annual NCAA basketball tournament, and with the March 31 deadline to enroll in health insurance plans under the federal Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare.
According to an article by Reuters, the success or failure of Obamacare will be heavily dictated by the number of young people who sign up for healthcare coverage. Because younger individuals are cheaper to insure, their participation will help drive down insurance costs for older plan beneficiaries, who are more likely to require medical care, the news agency reported.
Members of the Millennial generation who choose to go without healthcare insurance have been nicknamed the “young invincibles.” Those individuals, age 18 to 34, believe they don’t need coverage because they rarely get sick, CBS News reported.
However, the federal report notes that even a Saturday morning game of pickup basketball can carry serious consequences: In 2012, almost 570,000 basketball-related injuries resulted in visits to the emergency department, while more than 8,000 landed patients in hospital overnight.
Such injuries “demonstrate that even healthy and active adults can experience unanticipated and unaffordable health care costs,” the report found.