Press releases

September 18, 2014

Sun Life Financial Finds California Sports Injuries Cause 290,000 Emergency Room Visits Annually – Nearly Half by Youth

Study Explores Injury Risk and Medical Cost of Popular Team Sports

WELLESLEY, MA (September 18, 2014) – The U.S. business group of Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE: SLF, TSX: SLF) projects that California athletes will make 290,000 emergency room visits this year due to sports injuries,[1] nearly half experienced by athletes age 22 and younger.[2]

By correlating sports injury rates to participation levels of amateur athletes, Sun Life projected the total number of emergency room visits caused by each of seven popular California team sports: baseball, basketball, football, ice hockey, soccer, softball and volleyball. The study also analyzed per person emergency room medical costs on a national basis for thirteen popular sports.

Sun Life conducted the study to educate workers and their employers about the risk and cost of sports injuries amidst the rising popularity of high deductible health insurance plans. Twenty percent of U.S. workers covered by employer-sponsored health insurance have a high deductible plan with a savings option, a five-fold increase in seven years.[3]

  • Basketball is projected to send the most Californians (approximately 114,000 out of 2,850,000 participants)[4] to the emergency room this year, at an average per player medical cost of $3,764.[5]
  • Football is projected to send the second highest number of Californians (62,000 out of 730,000 participants) to the emergency room this year, at an average per player medical cost of $4,494.
  • Soccer is projected to send the third highest number of Californians (46,000 out of 1,600,000 participants)[6] to the emergency room, at an average per player medical cost of $4,284.[7]
  • Football has the highest injury rate (8.5%). This means the sport generates a fairly high number of injuries, despite a relatively low participation level compared to the other six team sports.[8]
  • A household has a fifty percent chance of experiencing an emergency room injury within five years if just a single family member plays football, ice hockey and soccereach year.[9]
  • A household has a fifty percent chance of experiencing an emergency room injury within three years if family members play a total of seven team sports each year.[10]
  • A popular California winter sport trigger the costliest average ER visits of thirteen popular team sports and recreational activities: downhill skiing ($6,962).[11]

“A lot of Californians end up in the emergency room each year due to sports injuries,” said Brad Fleiss, Sun Life’s California Group Market Manager, Assistant Vice President of Distribution. “Medical treatment can easily run into the thousands of dollars, meaning a family with high deductible health insurance could be out $4,000 or more[12] in aggregate deductibles before their insurance kicks in, while someone with single high deductible medical coverage might be out $2,000.[13]

Sun Life offers two Group Voluntary Accident Insurance plans, including a Preferred Plan, which offers a robust benefits schedule geared to employees with active lifestyles and families with athletes who play sports with higher rates of injury, and an Essential Plan, which offers a straightforward plan design and streamlined benefits schedule geared to younger workers and employees with low savings.

“As more workers adopt high deductible health insurance, we want people to understand how to protect themselves and their families against the financial risks of an injury,” said Brenda Randall, Sun Life’s California and Pacific Northwest Voluntary Benefits Practice Leader, “whether due to recreation or a random accident.”

For more information, see Sun Life Financial’s Sports Injury Highlights.

About Sun Life Accident Insurance

Accident insurance is a limited benefit coverage. It provides accident coverage only. It does not provide basic hospital, basic medical, or major medical insurance. The certificate has limitations and exclusions that may affect any benefits payable. Benefits payable are subject to all terms and obligations of the certificate. Sun Life's Accident Insurance product is not available in all states. Benefits sales professionals should call their Sun Life group representative for more information.

About Sun Life Financial
Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Sun Life Financial and its partners today have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Malaysia, Vietnam and Bermuda. In the United States and elsewhere, insurance products are offered by members of the Sun Life Financial group that are insurance companies. Sun Life Financial Inc., the holding company for the Sun Life Financial group of companies, is a public company. It is not an insurance company and does not offer insurance products for sale in the United States or elsewhere, and does not guarantee the obligations of its insurance company subsidiaries. In the United States, Sun Life Financial provides a range of products and services to employers and their employees, including Group and Voluntary Accident, Critical Illness, Dental, Disability, Life, and Stop-Loss insurance products. Product offerings may not be available in all states and may vary depending on state laws and regulations. Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE), and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF. For more information, please visit www.sunlife.com/us.

 

Media contacts
Tim Stone
Sun Life Financial
781-366-5376
tim.stone@sunlife.com

Keith Gainsboro
elevate communications
617-895-7905
kgainsboro@elevatecom.com

SLPC 26030 07/14 (exp. 07/19)


ENDNOTES

[1] State Emergency Room (ER) Visit Projections 

Sun Life Financial, Sports Participation and Injuries by Region, 2014 Research Study. Injury levels were derived from correlating sports participation levels to injury rates. Sources: (a) Sports participation: National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) report, “Sports Participation, State-by-State, Year-2012” (ages 7 and older), except for hockey, from: United States of Hockey, year 2012–13: http://unitedstatesofhockey.com/2013/09/13/hockeys-growth-in-the-united-states-2003-2013/; (b) Injury rates: Safe Kids Worldwide, analysis of Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), ages 12–17 2011 injury rates, based on emergency room visits per 100 athletes. The total number of estimated California emergency room injuries for seven team sports in 2012 is 291,698. The total projected 2014 California sports injury figure represents a conservative  approximation, since it omits: (a) injuries from many activities, including lacrosse, wrestling, skiing, skateboarding, and cheerleading, and (b) the small number of injuries that sent athletes directly to hospitals or to urgent care centers without going through an emergency room. These factors help counterbalance potential 2012 to 2014 declines in sports participation.

[2] State ER Visits for Athletes Under Age 22

National Sporting Goods Association. Estimates that 50% of the projected emergency room sports injuries are experienced by youth age 22 and under compared to all athletes age 7 and older were estimated based on the proportion of participation by youth under age 18 versus under age 25: On a weighted average basis, the proportion of participants under age 18 in baseball, basketball, soccer, softball, and volleyball comprised 42% of all participation in 2012, according to the National Sporting Goods Association. The proportion of participants under age 25 comprised 57% of all participation.

[3] Rising Popularity of High Deductible Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance

According to Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2013 Employer Health Benefits Survey (http://kaiserfamilyfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/8466-employer-health-benefits-2013_summary-of-findings2.pdf).

[4] State Emergency Room (ER) Visit Projections 

See footnote 1.

[5] Paid Medical Costs 

Sun Life Financial, Sports Participation and Injuries by Region, 2014 Research Study. For athletes ages 65 and younger. Represents total medical charges paid by medical insurance, the athlete, or by the athlete’s parent or guardian. Based on Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data on: (a) ages 65 and younger emergency department and hospital admissions (2012), (b) 2008 medical costs, adjusted to 2012 based on medical cost inflation data from Economic Report of the President, 2013. Note: Health insurance may cover some or all accident medical costs, though in many cases, the insured must first pay a deductible.

[6] State Emergency Room (ER) Visit Projections 

See footnote 1.

[7] Paid Medical Costs 

See footnote 5.

[8] Injury Rates

Safe Kids Worldwide, “Game Changers.” Analysis of Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), ages 12–17 2011 injury rates, based on emergency room visits per 100 athletes. Sun Life assumed injury rates by sport were constant in each U.S. state.

[9] Injury Risk: Playing Multiple Sports

Sun Life Financial, Sports Participation and Injuries by Region, 2014 Research Study. Each injury rate per year was extrapolated over multiple years and multiple sports, assuming each year and sport was independent of all others. For example, it was not assumed that either: (a) having an injury in a sport; or (b) not having an injury over a period of time created a greater (or lesser) chance of future injury. Projections estimate the risk of at least one injury occurring and do not assess the risk of experiencing more than one injury.

[10] The seven team sports are: football, baseball, softball, basketball, volleyball, ice hockey and soccer. For more information, see footnote 5. 

[11] Paid Medical Costs

See footnote 5.

[12] High Deductible Health Insurance Costs

Employer-sponsored health insurance with a deductible averages $1,135 for single coverage, with aggregate deductibles for family coverage averaging approximately $2,000. Deductibles for high deductible employer health insurance, average approximately $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families with aggregate deductibles.

http://kaiserfamilyfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/8465-employer-health-benefits-20131.pdf.

[13] See footnote 12.