Locked-out NFL players, families huddle over insurance
March 21, 2011By Carolyn Beeler
Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita (99) stops New England Patriots running back Danny Woodhead in an NFL football game in Cleveland. Fujita is an executive board member in the NFLPA. Football labor negotiations with the NFL involving a federal mediator broke off March 11, 2011, without an agreement. NFL players have been warned for years about the need to save and the importance of budgeting their money in case of a work stoppage. Well, the lockout is here. All the players have taken a bit of a financial hit already because of the lockout: NFL teams no longer are paying for their health insurance. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
Football fans are worried about what the NFL player lockout might mean for their fall TV lineup.
But the families of players are worried about something else: health insurance premiums the league is no longer paying.
Miki Yaras-Davis, director of the NFL player benefits trust, signed up most of the players for COBRA benefits. The law allows employees who lose their jobs to continue coverage if they pay for it.
She said insurance was a major concern among families during preparations for the lockout.
"We were doing wives' meetings, and we had questions from pregnant wives on whether they should induce labor,” before the lockout started, Yaras-Davis said. “It was startling and shocking."
The average player's salary is almost $2 million, but the NFL Players Association said last week being able to afford the insurance premiums was a concern for a minority of younger, lower-paid players who may not have saved enough for a protracted lockout.
The average monthly fee for a family policy for players is $2,400.
California-based job loss counselor Lynn Joseph said losing medical insurance is a huge cause of anxiety for the people she works with, even former executives who just left high-paying jobs. Likely, she said, that is because spouses and kids are involved.
"There's a lot of fear, and yes, some of that fear is about being able to support themselves and their families and be able to be prepared for any insurance and medical emergency that may arise,” Joseph said. “It's definitely part of the mix."