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NFL Retirees’ Coverage: Now Man-to-Man, Head-to-Toe, and Coast-to-Coast

Elizabeth Hofheinz, M.P.H., M.Ed.

There is “man-to-man” coverage on the field and now, with the help of 12 of the nation’s premier providers of medical care, there will be coast-to-coast medical coverage for any former National Football League player or team employee, and their families. This new initiative falls under the banner of Hall of Fame Health and will welcome new providers in the future.

“This network of world-class health systems, physician groups and provider organizations is committed to helping the Pro Football Hall of Fame serve former football players and their families as they look to navigate and gain access to the very best care,” said Jeremy Hogue, CEO of Hall of Fame Health. “It’s consistent with the Hall’s mission ‘to honor the heroes of the game.’ In the community of former football players, there is a need. We’re rising to meet it.”

According to Hogue, “an estimated 80% of the League’s more than 18,000 former players are not covered under employer-sponsored medical plans and must shop for insurance coverage each year during the national open-enrollment period, which this year begins Nov.”

If a retired player is in Westport, Connecticut or Portland, Oregon—or nearly anywhere in between—they and their families can find treatment at one of these premier hospitals, academic medical centers, physician groups and orthopedic centers.

The list of founding partners includes:

Andrews Institute: Gulf Breeze, Florida

Aultman Health Foundation: Canton, Ohio

Baylor Scott & White Health: Dallas, Texas

Emory Healthcare: Atlanta, Georgia

HCA Houston Healthcare: Houston, Texas

HonorHealth: Phoenix, Arizona

Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush (MOR): Chicago, Illinois

OrthoLoneStar: Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin/Central Texas, and Tyler/East Texas

Providence Saint John’s Health Center: Santa Monica, California

Tampa General Hospital: Tampa, Florida

UCSF Health: San Francisco, California

Vanderbilt Health: Nashville, Tennessee

“These founding members of the network are strategically located where there are high concentrations of NFL retirees,” Hogue said. “The goals of all of the participating organizations go beyond care for former athletes. We will assess new technologies and therapies, undertake research and work to advance care in ways that can be extended to our communities and create meaningful health benefits for everyone.”

Commenting on the program to OSN was Brian Cole, M.D. of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, who noted, “The impetus for this program was that we were asked to provide orthopedic care to former NFL players who are in need. We are pleased to have been chosen as the provider for players living in and near Chicago. We will provide all necessary orthopedic services, both office-based and surgically-based. While the program is still in the early phase, we look forward to providing care for these patients.”

“When we talk about ‘honoring the heroes of the game,’ it’s more than documenting their accomplishments on the field. It’s about caring about them off the field as well,” said David Baker, President and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “And that care is not limited to members of the Hall of Fame; it’s for everyone associated with the great game of football. Hall of Fame Health and these network partners will improve quality of life by providing world-class health care to the thousands of men and women who have been associated with the National Football League and its clubs.”

Baker recalled comments made by former San Francisco 49ers owner and Class of 2016 Hall of Fame inductee Eddie DeBartolo Jr.

“Make no mistake, history has its eyes on all of us right now,” DeBartolo said, referring to the long-term care of players. “It’s about the respect and gratitude we feel for these athletes who have given their all to this game. We’ve got to do all we can to look after one another and take care of one another, not just when the uniform is on, but when the uniform comes off, too.”

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Elizabeth Hofheinz

Two time winner of the MORE award Ms. Hofheinz was the first writer employed by Orthopedics This Week. The MORE award is granted annually by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons to recognize excellence in journalism. Ms. Hofheinz is currently the Director of Communications for Ortho Spine Partners (OSP).

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