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.
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.
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.