TitleCost-Benefit of Hiring Athletic Trainers in Oregon High Schools From 2011-2014.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsLi, T, Norcross, MF, Johnson, S, Koester, MC
JournalJ Athl Train
Date Published02/2019

CONTEXT: Hiring athletic trainers (ATs) in high schools may lower medical payments by third-party payers such as Medicaid or commercial insurers by reducing injury risks or may increase medical payments due to more referrals to other health care providers. To date, evidence is lacking on the actual financial effect of high school ATs based on an analysis of medical claims.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the overall cost-benefit of hiring ATs in Oregon high schools based on medical claims data across years.

DESIGN: Cost-benefit study.

SETTING: Oregon public high schools.

PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS: Patients aged 14 to 18 years old.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): We analyzed the 2011-2014 limited dataset from the Oregon Health Authority's All Payer All Claims database. Paired t tests were used to compare claims payments at the zip code level between periods of having and not having ATs in Oregon high schools. We also used the percentage of AT effort to adjust for AT investment. The main outcome measure was the return on investment associated with hiring ATs in high schools.

RESULTS: The presence of ATs in Oregon high schools may have had different effects on medical payments for Medicaid and commercial insurance. With every dollar invested in hiring ATs in Oregon public high schools from 2011 to 2014, Medicaid payments increased by 24 cents per month at the zip code level, while commercial insurance payments decreased by 24 cents, although the changes were not statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS: Hiring ATs in an outreach model for high schools may not necessarily generate medical savings for Medicaid or commercial insurers. Further research is needed to determine if the lack of cost savings in our study was a factor of the employment model, resulted from increased health care utilization, or reflected the need for ATs to deliver more on-site AT services.

Alternate JournalJ Athl Train
PubMed ID30398930