Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Health Care in the NFL

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Oct• 21•11

The National Football Post has an interesting article on health care for NFL players.  Like all individuals, health care for NFL players takes on two broad forms: preventive and treatment. Unlike most individuals, the forms of prevention are different.

When the NFL union and teams argue over preventive care, this does not revolve around vaccinations or PSA tests.  Players who want to maintain their health ask for limiting off-season workouts and full contact practices.

The latest collective bargaining agreement (CBA) also gives players enhanced treatment options as well.  The CBA mandated that players have access to their own medical records, the rights to a second opinion and the rights to their own treatment options.

Yet there are still problems with the health care NFL players receive.  For instance, some patients may worry that financial incentives may affect a doctor’s treatment decisions.  NFL players have additional reasons to worry.

Trainers and doctors are paid by the team to do what’s in the best interests of the team…While there are brilliant doctors and trainers in the NFL, many players seek treatment outside of their trainers reach and have little confidence in the team doctor.

Additionally, signalling to your employer that you are not healthy is often bad for your job prospects.

…several old school thinking coaches make it clear that they don’t want to see their players in the training room.  Some have gone so far as to make direct fun of them in front of the entire team…So his conundrum, like every single young player not drafted in the first round has to battle through, was to keep playing through the injury and thus medicating heavily while his quality of play suffers. Or, tell the trainers and coaches, get treatment, miss practice time and risk losing his position and job security.

NFL based health care is far from egalitarian as well.

If you are not a high profile starter you won’t get the best treatment a team can offer. The superstars get treated better in most training rooms. On the contrary, players bringing up the bottom of the roster are expected to take as little time and resources from the trainers.

In short, health care for players in NFL is far from perfect.


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