New Illinois Law Mandates Catastrophic Insurance Coverage For High School Athletes

CREDIT: Chicago Tribune

Rocky Clark

Rocky Clark


Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signed a law Monday that will require all high schools in the state to provide athletes with catastrophic injury coverage in the event of a major injury. The law, dubbed “Rocky’s Law,” was inspired by and is named for Rasul “Rocky” Clark, who was paralyzed during a football game in 2000.

Clark, who died in 2007, received medical care under a $5 million policy the school had taken out, but until now, those policies weren’t mandatory. The coverage will cost schools about $5 per athlete, according to estimates, but it will provide major benefits to injured athletes, the Associated Press explained:

The coverage will require a small fee from students but will provide major coverage benefits to injured athletes, the Associated Press explained:

The law says that a school’s minimum policy will cover $3 million in aggregate benefits or five years of coverage – whatever comes first – for injuries that total medical expenses over $50,000. The law includes public and private schools and state officials estimate that the cost of the coverage will be no more than $5 a student. Currently, some schools carry insurance for athletes, but it hasn’t been mandatory. The Illinois High School Association provides students with this catastrophic insurance for state tournaments.

State Sen. Napoleon Harris (D), a former NFL player, sponsored the legislation. “These students’ lives are dramatically changed in cases of catastrophic injuries, and they deserve access to health care coverage,” Harris told the AP.

In 2012, there were nearly 7.7 million Americans playing high school sports; the Illinois law, which applies to both private and public schools, will cover nearly 350,000 athletes, according to the state’s latest participation figures. Injuries like Clark’s are most common in football, where about 1 of every 100,000 high school players suffers a serious spinal cord injury. Nearly 50,000 Illinoisans and more than 1 million Americans play high school football each year.