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Dear Friends & Colleagues,

The NCAA, ACA, and Open Enrollment:
 
Yet another reason why HHS should continue enrollment through April 15th 


With the NCAA’s college basketball tournament upon us, many are completing their brackets and figuring out surreptitious ways to sneak views of working-hour games over the coming weeks.  The excitement is palpable, even for me as an “ACC-fan-by-marriage” spectator.  (I’d be even more excited had Georgetown not been robbed on Selection Sunday, but I digress.)

Naturally, of course, there is an ACA angle here – and the NCAA tourney’s connection to health reform goes way beyond HHS’s full-court press on enrollment this month.  Numerous articles over the past two years leveled criticisms at allegedly inadequate levels of health coverage for injured athletes and the relative absence of coverage for long-term injuries after athletes leave school.  We collectively celebrate their performance while athletes are at their prime – but these stories remind us about athletes and their families who literally bear the costs of sports injuries after college play ends. 

These injured athletes may not proceed to the NBA, but that’s far from unusual.  Of the 5,370 Division I men’s basketball scholarships in the NCAA, only 51 players went from the NCAA to play professionally in 2012.  Despite these odds, the sport is still immensely popular: when you count women’s programs and Division II, III, etc., you have almost 60,000 scholarship players in college basketball.  That means that thousands of college athletes face the same senior-year dilemmas as other prospective graduates – and injured athletes often have medical conditions (and bills) to consider in their decision-making.

Mercifully, injured athletes no longer face medical underwriting or pre-existing condition exclusions when they leave school and apply for health insurance.  Even student health plans offered by colleges must now comply with many ACA provisions.  But as our
report on “boomerang children” and the ACA show, these former players and others in their age group may not have access to the ACA’s subsidy programs – and moving home may expose their parents to penalties if they remain uninsured.    

How are they supposed to sort this out?  That’s a toughie.  The ACA does provide more options for them, but working through the tax and eligibility questions is challenging for even the best of sports statistician types.  We at Jackson Hewitt are happy to help: we provide free ACA application assistance when we do your taxes – regardless of where you live and the programs for which you may be eligible.  And we do it without any ACC, PAC-12, Big 10, or SEC bias.  Well, as long you don’t cheer for UConn….

Oh, and one more thing:  There are
ample reasons to continue enrollment through April 15 th , but what about this one?  The NCAA tournament Championship isn’t until April 7 th .  Shouldn’t an avid basketball fan like the President take this into account when determining the end date for enrollment?  Players and fans should definitely have at least a week after the tournament ends to sign up and finalize their qualified health plan selections.  Am I right?  After all, signing up after the Regionals (before March 31 st ) and one week after the Championship game (April 15 th ) yields the same effective date of coverage: May 1 st .  That’s an easy enrollment layup that could mean the game!

Please feel free to contact me at
brian.haile@jtax.com or 615-761-6929 if I can be helpful in any way.

Sincerely,

Brian