KidGuard no longer offered at Cassville schools

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Federal regulations blamed for low participation

For 20 years, KidGuard, has been providing supplemental accident insurance for school children involved in extracurricular activities.

However, state and federal regulations, including the Affordable Care Act, have changed the company's ability to continue offering that coverage.

"It was important because to participate in extracurricular sports, students must have minimum coverage options, and KidGuard met that requirement," said Richard Asbill, superintendent for the Cassville school district. "The Missouri State High School Activities Association mandates that without minimum insurance coverage, they're not allowed to participate in extracurriculars, so [KidGuard brochures are] just offered up to parents as an option to provide minimum coverage.

"It's a supplemental, accidental insurance for child injuries. It's not meant to be primary insurance. It covers your child through the school year. Parents could pay about $30 for a policy if their child got hurt."

Due to declining enrollment in the program, the school decided not to make the company's brochures available to parents.

"It's all voluntary for us," he said. "They were just one of the vendors who offered us brochures, and we put them in the office. We only have less than 3 percent of our students that actually utilize it for participation. But, it is no longer going to be offered.

"That's not our decision, that's KidGuard's decision, so we've had to pursue other groups to see if we have anyone who needs basic supplemental insurance. We're trying to find that out for them."

Larry Smith, owner of Chesterfield-based Lawrence E. Smith and Associates, carries KidGuard insurance. Smith said he could offer a flat rate to the school that would provide blanket-type coverage for everyone at a reduced rate of approximately $4-$5 per child, and he had provided information on that option to the school.

Asbill said supplemental accident insurance is an option for parents and that KidGuard has been a vendor, but it is not the school's responsibility to provide insurance.

"We do not contract with those companies," Asbill said. "With the Affordable Care Act piece, now that it's in place, parents and individuals have to have insurance either through the exchange or their employer. Fewer and fewer parents are taking out KidGuard, so that's why they have quit offering it."

Asbill said the decision not to stock KidGuard brochures really did not impact a lot of people, because so few parents were taking out policies.

"There are so many parents having to have insurance now because of that requirement [Affordable Care Act], there's less and less people looking for those supplemental plans," he said.

Smith said the primary reason they decided not to offer the insurance to the school was because the company was losing money from the low participation.

"We have specialized in providing student insurance since 1975," he said. "The cost we were incurring to print 2,500 brochures for the school district doesn't cover our cost for the amount of policies we were receiving," he said. "And, that didn't include claims. We had maybe 20 kids out of 2,500 utilizing the insurance. We were not breaking even. That's been the case for the last three to four years.

"It's not just Cassville, but all over the place. The claims are higher, and participation of students is lower. There are not a lot of companies that want to individually insure kids and student athletes."

Smith added that the federal government is making it difficult for everyone, and there are more federally-imposed provisions, particularly in the college insurance market, posing challenges for insurance providers.

"It's not a good deal for the insurance companies."

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