Most families have help paying for student athlete injuries

Most families have help paying for student athlete injuries

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"When you have a catastrophic injury like Will did with a subdural hematoma, you're thinking 'Oh gosh, what's next, how can we afford this?'" Coach McKamey said. "When you have a catastrophic injury like Will did with a subdural hematoma, you're thinking 'Oh gosh, what's next, how can we afford this?'" Coach McKamey said.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - When a high school athlete is seriously injured, the medical bills can pile up quickly, like with Seth Haynes. The Roane County High School football player broke his neck during a game. Surgeons at UT Medical Center repaired his shattered vertebrae and say he will be able to walk again, but his recovery will be a long one.

There are three levels of insurance that can kick in when a student athlete gets hurt. First their family's private insurance, then the school's insurance, and finally, if the injury is severe enough, the catastrophic policy from the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA.)

Roane County schools don't have their own policy, meaning that middle level of protection isn't there. However, other schools, like Knox County Schools and Grace Christian Academy in Knoxville, do have policies.

It will be a year this Friday since Grace Christian senior running back Will McKamey collapsed on the sidelines in South Pittsburgh.

"I do know the LifeStar to Erlanger was $25,000, just the flight. I think it was a seven minute flight," said his father, Grace coach Randy McKamey.

The family wasn't thinking about money then, but the financial reality soon set in.

"When you have a catastrophic injury like Will did with a subdural hematoma, you're thinking 'Oh gosh, what's next, how can we afford this?'" Coach McKamey said.

The family's own insurance kicked in first, and the school's policy reimbursed them for their co-pays and deductibles. Will made a full recovery and is playing ball now at the Naval Academy. His family never needed the TSSAA catastrophic policy, which kicks in after the first $10,000 worth of medical bills and pays up to $450,000.

"We encourage schools and school systems to get some type of policy on their student athletes at least for the first $10,000 because you don't want a family to be out that much. Someone has to pay that first $10,000 before our insurance will pick up," said TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress.

He said they've only had a few cases over the years where an injured student athlete doesn't have family or school insurance.

"If a student athlete requires any type of surgery, it's going to penetrate the $10,000," Childress said.

Tammi Haynes, mother of injured Roane County player Seth Haynes, said they do have family insurance that will cover the first $10,000 worth of medical bills. Since there is no school policy, they will count on the TSSAA policy for any amount after that.

6 News spoke to the Roane County teacher organizing some of the fundraising events for Seth's family. She said the money they raise will help pay for things they think insurance might not cover, like gas used driving to and from the hospital and time his mom will have to take off from work to care for him.

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