You Paid For It: Hillsborough mom says football insurance no help when needed most

Monica and Kenney Johnson.
Monica and Kenney Johnson.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Kenney Johnson’s mother Monica is still paying for the day back in April 2015 when a football injury during postseason practice at King High School sent him to ER with signs of a concussion.

Monica Johnson estimates that even after making claims through her primary healthcare insurance, she ended up with $3,500 in bills that she thought her son’s mandatory sports insurance was going to pay.

“If we’re required to have that insurance prior to my kid stepping on the field, we should be covered for the whole school year,” she said.

Across the Tampa Bay area, school districts require parents to purchase mandatory sports injury insurance through school systems, but as Johnson found out that insurance is typically riddled with loopholes and exclusions.

In Hillsborough County, mandatory football insurance costs $50 but excludes student athlete injuries received during summer practice and the off season—even if those mishaps occur at school, during practice with the team, under the school coach’s supervision.

RELATED: Mandatory school sports insurance in Pinellas: You Paid For It, but why?

The Hillsborough County School District’s insurance carrier rejected Johnson’s medical claim, which she thought would pay for much of what her primary insurance did not. Johnson insists that nobody told her that the football coach—who was essentially using the practice field as a third-party during the off season—was supposed to arrange for another insurance plan. That coverage, in theory, would have covered Kenney’s concussion treatment as a secondary policy to his mother’s family health insurance plan.

“I don’t know anything about a third-party insurance from the coach,” Johnson said.

Johnson does know only too well that she’s shelled out thousands of dollars that she can’t afford for Kenney’s hospital bills and she’s not done paying yet, a year and a half after the incident. “I think there’s a problem,” Johnson said.

8 On Your Side is still trying to find out from the Hillsborough School District whether the King High School football coach had arranged for the off-season insurance policy required under school district rules and why no one told Johnson such a policy was in place to cover Kenney’s hospital expenses.

Trey Thomas, who was the football coach in 2015 is no longer there and the King’s assistant principal for athletics has also changed. As of late Friday school district spokeswoman Tanya Arja said no one at King High School could locate paperwork for the policy that should have covered Johnson’s injury. They are still looking.

What is clear, is that a number of parents around Tampa Bay responded to our You Paid For It story Tuesday, which revealed that mandatory sports insurance pays back in claims about a third of premiums collected in Pinellas County. Parents also object to being forced to buy secondary insurance when they are already covered through their own primary health coverage.

Johnson says she didn’t get much of a bargain for the $50 she had to pay for Keeney’s insurance–not that she had any choice if he was going to be part of the King High School football team. “That was $50 I could have used on a pair of cleats or some other kind of insurance,” Johnson said.

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