MTB'ers Hurt by Federal Agencies Proposed Rules on Insurance |
Tuesday, April 10, 2001
Through the web medium, we at DirtWorld became aware of another threat to our passion for mountain biking. This threat directly attacks those who actively participate in and enjoy a livelihood from outdoor adventure sports such as mountain biking. Just a few short months ago the mountain biking community galvanized and had a major impact on the Bureau of Land Management's decision about classifying mountain bikes as ORV's (off road vehicles). This is another situation were we need to come together as a community and send a strong message.
Recently federal agencies have proposed new rules which could adversely affect people who enjoy outdoor recreation. For us that means mountain biking! Like many of the DirtWorld audience, we also enjoy other forms of outdoor recreation and these new rules could potentially impact them all.
The proposed change by the Internal Revenue Service, the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration and the Health Care Financing Administration would permit health insurers to exclude coverage for injuries resulting from "dangerous" recreation. While the new proposals state that an employer cannot refuse health-care coverage to an employee based on participation in recreational activities, they permit health insurers to deny coverage for injuries sustained in connection with such recreational activities, effectively reaching the same result.
The new regulations were jointly issued by the three federal agencies as interim rules, which means they are effective now.
These proposed regulations permit exclusions from health insurance coverage based on activities, including mountain biking, that Congress originally sought to protect. In 1966, Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This Act was intended to prohibit health insurers from denying health coverage based on a worker's preexisting medical condition or participation in legal recreational activities. The legislative history of the Act states that the law "is intended to ensure, among other things, that individuals are not excluded from health-care coverage due to their participation in activities such as motorcycling, snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle riding, horseback riding, skiing and other similar activities."
Various user and industry groups worked to have that language included in the legislative history of the Act because some employers and insurers were discriminating against employees injured during recreational pursuits leaving them without coverage.
While the proposed rules prohibit a person from being denied health insurance coverage simply because he or she engages in mountain biking, they also permit an insurer to exclude benefits for injuries suffered while engaged in such "dangerous" activities. This effectively excludes individuals from engaging in such activities for fear of not being extended benefits should injury occur.
Below are links to letters addressed to the key contact agencies. Please copy & paste the letter into your word processing program, personalize it, print the letter and send them to the to each agency.
Letter to the Internal Revenue Service
Letter to the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration
Letter to the Health Care Financing Administration
Utilize the American Motorcyclist Association's Rapid Response link to contact your representatives. CLICK TO ACT!
Please forward this message to any one you know who enjoys outdoor recreation that might be considered "dangerous" in the eyes of the uneducated. ACT NOW!
Thank you to Timothy Cusick IMBA State Representative, Eastern PA. and the American Horse Council (yes, the equestrians!) for circulating the information.