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Who pays medical bills when WCHS athletes get injured?

What happens when Billy hurts his knee during a high school basketball game?

Warren County has one of the most generous insurance policies of any school system in the state. Some school systems mandate the students playing athletics must be covered by family insurance. 

Warren County offers a secondary policy that can cover students up to $10,000. But all things considered, it is in the best interest of the parent or guardian in Warren County to have family insurance for a child participating in athletics.

Hopefully, a student does not sustain an injury while participating in sports, but according to various sources, 1-in-5 high school football players will have an injury that requires medical attention. 

The National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) reports there are over 1 million high school boys playing football per year. The NFHS has governed high school football rules since 1932, and the TSSAA uses the NFHS rules to govern high school sports. 

The rules have changed a lot during the past 50 years to reduce injuries in high school football. The NFHS reports that “while football is a contact sport and injuries do occur, the risk of serious or catastrophic injuries has never been lower in the history of high school football.” 

Sprains and strains are the most common injuries, and they require minimal medical care. The more serious injuries such as broken bones, ACLs, MCLs, brain injuries, nerve damage, and internal injuries require more intense and comprehensive medical care. The cost can be very expensive if hospitalization and surgery are required. 



If and athlete sustains a substantial injury that requires surgery and/or hospitalization, medical cost can skyrocket. Ideally, the student’s family insurance will cover all the medical expenses, but if the family insurance does not cover the medical bills, there are two options that can help.

Option One: The school’s secondary insurance will help if the family insurance reaches a limit of coverage; however, if the student’s family does not have insurance, the student’s family will be responsible for the expenses not covered by the school’s secondary insurance. 

Option Two: The TSSAA can be approached by the student’s family and school administration regarding the TSSAA’s catastrophic insurance that has a $15,000 deductible. The deductible can be covered by the family and/or school’s insurance. This is obviously an option for serious injuries that require major medical care and costs.


An ACL surgery can range from $3,500 to $20,000, but that does not include the MRI, rehab, and other related medical costs. Every parent or guardian must make a decision about the risk and cost of an injury sustained by a child participating in high school sports. The Warren County school system has a policy for handling injuries, and it is attached. The TSSAA Catastrophic Insurance Document is also attached.

Statement from Dr. Grant Swallows, Director of Schools for Warren County:

We pulled our secondary policy and it states that we have a $0 deductible; so actually if a student has no insurance, our secondary policy would cover.  The student athletic accident medical supplemental benefit plan provided for extracurricular activities and sports is for covered accidents up to $10,000 of coverage. It is excess and secondary insurance with a one year benefit period so parents should first file on and follow procedures of any other individual or family medical plan (Private, Medicare, Medicaid etc.).  Families would also need to follow the procedure to make a claim in the school’s athletic accident medical supplemental plan. With children myself who participate, I want them to have those experiences and as their parent, I understand the risks.  With that said, I also am thankful that they participate in a district that will take extra steps to help protect them in the event of injury.  Also, please note that this policy doesn’t just cover WCHS, it covers all our schools and that would extend to the TSSAA/TMSAA schools as well.