Should athletic trainers be able to bill insurance companies?
By: LFDA Editor
If you've been to a high school or college athletic event, you've probably seen them on the sidelines, typically with a fanny pack full of gear. They are the athletic trainers, and they are normally on staff or contracted to high school and college athletic teams throughout New Hampshire.
If there's an injury on the field, the trainer is typically the first responder, providing initial treatment for anything from a twisted ankle to a bone break.
A larger issue for athletic trainers off the field is whether they should be able to charge insurance companies for their services.
SB 423, which was considered but put into study by the 2010 Legislature, would have required health insurance coverage for athletic trainer services performed by a licensed athletic trainer, if such services would be covered when performed by another health care provider.
According to the New Hampshire Athletic Trainers' Association, the legislation would provide athletic trainers with "fair practice and equal access to insurance reimbursement" for those treatment and rehabilitative services, within the scope of practice for athletic trainers, which are already being rendered by and reimbursed to some other provider. The law would not increase the cost of insurance, said the association.
Opponents of reimbursement for athletic trainers argue that a reimbursement model would decrease the quality of athletic trainer services, since trainers would make money based on the number of appointments in a day rather than on the quality of their service. There are also no national standards on how much education an athletic trainer must receive, and some healthcare professionals argue that allowing athletic trainers to bill insurance companies would unfairly, and potentially dangerously, put athletic trainers on the same footing as more rigorously licensed healthcare professionals.
No consideration of the issue was given by the 2011-2012 Legislature. The LFDA will continue to monitor the issue and report any new development as they occur.
For more information about athletic trainers, see the FAQ at the N.H. Office of Licensed Allied Health Professionals.
What do you think? Should athletic trainers be able to bill insurance companies just like other health care providers?