Former Blue Devil Shane Battier is helping White House officials push Americans to sign up for the Affordable Care Act by drawing attention to the economic costs of sports-related injuries.
The promotional push is beginning alongside the start of March Madness in an effort to reach consumers watching basketball games on television and online. In addition to running advertisements, White House officials will also begin a social media push when the NCAA tournament begins, said Marlon Marshall, White House principal deputy director of the office of public engagement. Battier is helping promote the Affordable Care Act.
In a phone conference Tuesday, he discussed the importance of getting health insurance as an athlete who has gone through multiple sports-related injuries. He is showing his support alongside other prominent figures in athletics, such as North Carolina head men's basketball coach Roy Williams and Connecticut head women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma—who filmed a video promoting the Affordable Care Act.
"The fact is, if you're playing a sport it is important to make sure you have great health insurance because you never know when you're going to take a hit, and you'll probably need treatment of some kind," Battier said.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report on the economic costs of sports-related injuries to draw attention to the importance of obtaining coverage. The report noted that more than 1.9 million individuals had sports-related injuries in 2012. Nearly 570,000 were basketball injuries that were treated in emergency departments nationwide, with more than 8,000 resulting in hospitalization.
Battier listed some of his basketball-related injuries, which include receiving more than 90 stitches, suffering more than 25 ankle sprains and having reconstructive ankle surgery.
"There is a health risk that comes from playing a sport so I'm very thankful that I've always had great insurance," he said. "The bottom line is you have to protect yourself."
The athletics-focused promotional push is intended to encourage more Americans to sign up for the Affordable Care Act before the March 31 deadline. More than 5 million Americans are currently signed up. Americans who do not sign up for insurance by the March 31 deadline will have to wait until November to enroll.
The report also noted that sports-related injuries make up approximately 20 percent of all injury-related emergency department visits among children ages 6-19. Additionally, around 12 million individuals between the ages of five and 22 suffer sports-related injuries annually, which amounts to approximately $33 billion in health care costs.
"According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults need 30 minutes or more of moderate to physical activity a day to reap important health benefits," said Shellie Pfohl, executive director of the president's council on fitness, sports and nutrition. "So get covered to stay in the game."
Pfohl added that six out of 10 people without insurance can get coverage for $100 or less.
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