Just as March Madness sweeps the nation for college basketball fans, the White House is making an extra push to increase health care enrollment in the wake of a report showing 1.9 million young people sought emergency treatment from sports-related injuries in 2012.
The report released Tuesday by the Department of Health and Human Services says the most common injuries include leg fractures, ankle or knee sprains, facial injuries, broken or dislocated fingers, head concussions or fractures and shoulder fractures or dislocations.
Injury rates are higher for children and young adults under age 25, the report said. An estimated 12 million people ages 5 to 22 are hurt while playing sports each year, which leads to 20 million lost days of school and $33 billion in health care costs.
Shane Battier of the Miami Heat, who has joined the administration in its effort to get youth covered with insurance, said he has experienced face and eyebrow injuries that required more than 90 stitches, a broken elbow, more than 20 ankle sprains, reconstructive ankle surgery and foot surgery during his career in college and professional basketball.
"It's important to make sure you have great heath care because you never know when you're going to take a hit," Battier said, during a news conference where the study was released. "These injuries, as common as they are, can cost a lot of money."
The report said the average medical costs for a 25- to 40-year-old who has a sprain or strain is $3,175, and $7,666 for an arm fracture.
The White House also released earlier a "16 sweetest reasons to get covered" bracket and a video by coaches from the universities of Connecticut and North Carolina at Chapel Hill to attract young people.
"This is yet another reminder of the importance of getting covered, whether you're an athlete, a fan or, like so many of you here, both," White House spokesman Jay Carney said during a Tuesday briefing.
The White House said more than 5 million people have signed up for private health insurance plans through the marketplace. The deadline is March 31.