Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Health Care Reform NOW

My daughter came over the other night, excited because she could graduate next December, after 4.5 years of college. Since she spent her first year as a dance major, getting a degree in Communication/Public Relations this quickly required some work.

She fears the current job market a bit,SpoonJen and has picked up some GRE study guides… “Just in case.”

My biggest fear? Her health insurance.

Dancers are elite athletes. The degree of fitness she achieved amazed me. While 2.5 years without daily dancing have reduced that level, she is still in good shape. She clearly has special skills.

When she was 14 or 15, she complained about her heart beating fast during dance class. She often had gone hours without eating or drinking, and may have been a bit dry. We told her to take better care of herself.

One day this happened while I was waiting to take her home; she could only speak about 2 words without gasping. When I touched her pulse, it was too fast to count (can you say “Major Maternal Guilt?). After some challenges with the event monitor (it took superglue to get the electrodes to stick through a sweaty dance class), we finally diagnosed supraventricular tachycardia (SVT). Her condition was not life-threatening; the major risk was injury if she fainted when it happened. Since it often happened on stage, and she generally kept performing, this presented a bit of a problem.

We tried drugs to control it, but they made her SOOOO GROGGY. She finally learned to valsalva and break the rhythm, even in short off-stage moments during performances. The cardiologist no longer sees her. Now that she dances only in more casual situations, her SVT does not happen. Jazzercize class? No problem. Running 2 miles? No problem.

Insurability? Problem.

Her SVT is a pre-existing medical condition that, without reform, will make her uninsurable. She could not start her own business, or join a small company. As it stands at the moment, she will have to seek out a fairly large employer with good group coverage. Luckily, while a student, our policy will still cover her.

As a physician, I see this situation frequently. A parent loses a job or changes employers, and someone in the family is uninsurable. How many Americans are “insurance hostages” to their current employers?

As a physician and a parent, I support health reform. So congress, DO SOMETHING. The status quo is not acceptable… for me, my patients, or my family.


  1. Dear Pascale,

    I have a quick question about your blog and couldn't find your email. Please email me back at barbaraobrien@maacenter.org



  2. Thanks for your blog post. I haven't met many people in the health care field that will speak out about feeling this way. Most think that it is going to be the worst thing in the world, and only really speak of it from a financial standpoint. Life is more than about money. And I have $2 million child to prove it. Who will also likely be uninsurable unless there are changes. My wife and I make a good living, but we also pay for 2 insurances on top of Medicare for her. The social work system at our hospital didn't help either. And since we "make a good living", we really fell through the cracks and weren't really given any options for help prior to PD. Some might think, "your daughter has Medicare and you still keep 2 HC insurance policies on her? You are crazy! You're just wasting your money." Well, if we didn't and something happened to a policy, we would be f'ed. And that has already happened to a lot of people. It needs to change. Sorry for the rant, but I feel better now.


  3. I have a medical condition that is not life-threatening, but makes me uninsurable. I clearly remember as a ~7-year-old, my pediatrician telling me that he had to talk to me about something really serious and important. He proceeded to tell me that whatever I wanted to be when I grew up, it was really important that I get a job with either a Really Really Big Company or the US Government so that I would have insurance and be able to go to the Doctor. I was a serious-minded kid and took him uber-seriously, and filtered my "what I want to be when I grow up?" daydreams through a "will I be insured if I do that?" rubric. In retrospect, (a) he was totally correct (and I work for a large university and am insured), (b) luckily my career aspirations allowed this to happen rather easily, and (c) this is not something a 7-year-old (or 22-year-old) should have to consider when choosing a career.

  4. ummm most importantly. Why would you ever choose such a hideous picture? Is this really your bundle of joy? Plus Health reform is just right around the corner with this new national plan right?... yeah right. Maybe I'll get a p.r. job with a university and I will work for the state and not have to worry as much about health care?...hmmm