TitleThe impact of high school athletic trainer services on medical payments and utilizations: a microsimulation analysis on medical claims
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsLi, T, Johnson, S, Koester, MC, Hommel, A, Norcross, MF
JournalInjury Epidemiology
Date Published01/2019


Increasing athletic trainer (AT) services in high schools has attracted widespread interest across the nation as an effective instrument to manage injuries and improve children’s health, but there is a lack of evidence on potential medical savings. Our study aimed to address this knowledge gap and provide evidence of AT impacts on medical payments and utilizations to inform public policy decision.


We obtained medical claims of patients aged 14 to 18 years from the 2011–2014 Oregon All Payer All Claims limited dataset. We calculated payer payments and utilizations for medical claims under AT’s scope of practice. We used zip codes to link patients with the enrollment boundaries of Oregon public high schools, which were classified as either “AT group” or “non-AT group”. We implemented an innovative microsimulation analysis to address the uncertainty of linkage between children and schools.


Our analysis included 64,115 and 84,968 eligible children with Medicaid and commercial insurance, respectively. Associated with high school AT services, Medicaid saved an average of $64 per patient during the study period, while commercial insurance payment rarely changed. AT services may reduce emergency visits for both insurance types but increase total visits for commercially insured patients.


Our study provides evidence for the differential impacts of AT services on medical payments and utilizations. The legislators should consider to allocate funds for high schools to directly employ ATs. This will encourage ATs to work to their highest ability to improve children’s wellbeing while containing avoidable medical cost.

Short TitleInj. Epidemiol.