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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Company Life: Health Insurance


Amy Reusch

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I wonder if I'm reviving an old thread...

 

I was speaking today with a young dancer dodging tendonitis symptoms, and reflecting on how difficult it is for dancers not employed by the top-ten companies to get medical attention when they so often cannot afford more than the "emergency hospitalization only" type of insurance.

 

Is there no "Volunteer Doctors for the Dance" as there is "Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts?"

 

Is there no foundation out there interested in helping young dancers get the medical attention they need? Or is this just another case of dance's "survival of the fittest [or richest]?"

 

My only advice I could offer was that she should save her money and try to find out who Boston Ballet's physician was (they're probably the nearest company to Hartford likely to have someone competent ) because with only a few dollars available to spend, she should spend them astutely. Her fear was, of course, that she couldn't afford a doctor, let alone one in Boston.

 

Unfortunately, I'm sure her fears are common among young dancers not covered. Please tell me I'm wrong and the world has changed since I was 17.

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Guest Leigh Witchel

Amy, there are at least some options in NYC. Roosevelt Hospital near Lincoln Center has the Miller Institute for the Performing Arts which I believe offers sliding scale care (or at least it did once). And often individual companies will work out something with doctors - when I danced in Lexington they worked out a deal with the sports clinic at University of Kentucky. It worked well.

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I wonder if you're just starting with a new company how soon you dare mention an pre-existing injury. Is there still that part of audition forms where you're supposed to declare what injuries you've had? Do dancers put down the truth? Are they penalized for it?

 

Thanks for the suggestions, Leigh, I'll pass them on.

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I'm not sure if dancers can even be asked a question like that, but I do know that the company I work for has all the new dancers evaluated by the doctor who supervises our physical therapists within the first few weeks of work.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Guest floatingonair

depending on the income there are normally clinics available but i doubt that there are any that specialize in dance. i'm i the only one that is sick of how much health insurance costs?

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No, you're not the only one who is tired of the rising cost of health insurance. But -- I fear it is pretty much like death and taxes. Inevitable. Currently, my monthly premium is more than my rent. That shocks some people who go without or who obtain insurance through their employment.

 

What is just as troubling to me, however, is the disproportionate attention given to the health of male athletes. I have just completed the dance major program at a major private university, that also has a medical school affiliated with a local hospital. On campus is a beautiful state-of-the-art sports medicine clinic situated on the first floor of a total sports complex. In the front of the first floor are the doctors' offices. In the back is the physical therapy clinic.

 

When I finally needed to consult an orthopedist for a back problem, I was referred, by one of the teachers, to a doctor who is said to love working with dancers. It took me weeks to get in to see him, however, because precedence is given to the male athletes. I did find the doctor to be upbeat and interested in my recovery. He prescribed physical therapy, and the therapist assigned to me diagnosed a hypermobile sacroliac joint (causing the length of one leg to vary). In the course of performing the prescribed exercises to minimize the problem, I suffered a groin injury.

 

To receive therapy for a new injury, I would need to see the doctor again and obtain a prescription. Once again, I could not get in to see the doctor for several weeks. I asked if the clinic would call me in the event a cancellation arose. They did call, allright. They called just before my scheduled appointment to tell me someone else (male athlete) needed the appointment.

 

The dancers do give performances which make money for the school. However, it's apparently a pittance compared to the money generated by football, basketball and baseball ticket sales.

 

Another thing -- when dancers are supposed to be in class (dance or other academics), they're there. It doesn't matter if they had light night rehearsals and performances, etc. Attendance is required. But -- athletes at our school ... it's carte blanche for them. Automatically excused from class whether it's for practice, games, or they were just too beat afterwards.

 

No parity here.

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Personally, I think one cause of rising health insurance costs is insurance itself. We go to the doctor much more frequently now because we have insurance. I’m old enough to remember when very few (no one I knew) had health insurance. We went to the doctor when we were sick and yes it was relatively expensive, but nowhere as relatively expensive as it is now.

 

By the way, I pay 10% of my health insurance premium. Even at that, I have spent more on health insurance than I have “spent” on medical treatment in the last 10 years that I have been keeping track of this. Actually, I’d have a nice little cushion had I not had any health insurance and just put my premium money in an account. Were it the total of my premiums, that cushion would be a really nice tidy sum.

 

So much for my insurance speech.

 

I chuckled at Funny Face’s experience because that is an area I know well. Actually, her experience is about football in particular, but is really characteristic of team sports in general. For some insane reason, people who play team sports believe they have to be surrounded by the best of everything.

 

People in individual sports are different. They are much less likely to use the training room or perks than the team sport people rush to at the first opportunity. It’s just a different mentality.

 

Whenever people talk about needing the best for a sport, I like to tell them of my own experience in an individual sport that was competed internationally. The old Soviet Union dominated that sport. Their national championships were better than the world championships in terms of both quality and depth. We assumed that one reason for their success was that they had the best in terms of equipment, sports medicine, science, coaching, you name it. As it turns out, quite the opposite was the case. Their equipment was junk; the science and sports medicine was largely quackery. Even the coaching was uneven with a mix of very good and very bad. And the living conditions were an abomination. As one US athlete said, “I have it better and I am on unemployment.”

 

Why were they so good? Turned out to be very simple. They just had a huge number of competitors and the cream rose to the top pretty much on its own.

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Regarding cost of insurance: the explanation I received from the insurance company at the time of my most recent increase (in addition to joining a new age group) was the development of ever-new diagnostic procedures.

 

In terms of people going to doctors more, what I see in my community is people using the ER as a regular clinic. They actually don't have family doctors or exercise routine care, and therefore, when they're sick with anything, they go to the ER. The ERs in this city resemble a combination of cocktail hour and daycare center at any given time.

 

Another reason for increased health costs: the obesity epidemic in the U.S., and its concomitant problems such as diabetes and heart disease. If only fitness could be incorporated as part of a regular daily routine. This, in turn, can be linked to city planning. At first, you might say "What!?!" But think of the cities where people are more fit than in others. Those are the places that have biking paths throughout (Seattle), or where pedestrians are given more respect (Boulder). I''ve not been to Ottawa, but I like the concept of people skating to work. You don't have to live in a warm climate to have an advantage. The Twin Cities have skywalks throughout the downtown areas, which makes for great lunch time breaks. I'd be the happiest person alive if there was such a thing in my community as a car-less path that you could take from the outer areas into the downtown to work. Where you could get there by rollerblading, walking, or cycling, without fear of being hit, or of breathing harmful fumes.

 

It's interesting, BTW, that we focus so much attention on our football players, when I hear the average pro career is three years. I dare say that dancers, even in this precarious business, fare better than that. And by the way, I was weaned on the Green Bay Packers and probably know more football trivia than most guys, so it's not a matter of not understanding football that makes me question the fairness of disproportionate attention. It's just that I believe the focus has gotten out of hand. Has this really come down to "who is a bigger money maker for our university -- the football player or the dancer?" when it comes to affording them equal time in the sports medicine clinic?

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Just wanted to add comment on Garyecht's comments about Soviet athletes.

 

I think, perhaps, this is an example of how 'hungry' individuals need to be to succeed. I was reminded, in particular, of figure skater Maria Butyrskaya. I was watching her in a televised competition years ago, when no one, including the commentators, had heard of her. This gawky teenager with a ponytail and no polish or finesse was doing her best out there, and the general comments were more of pity. They talked about how she was an unwitting victim of the current state of her country, getting only one day a week of ice time. They never would have predicted that finally, at the 'old' age of 26, she would win the World's competition, being the first Russion of the post-Soviet era to win a single's title at World's. Take into consideration that she is void of plie for her jumps, of extension for her spirals, and of spine flexibility for her laybacks -- and yet, is tauted as a great artist. That's pure grit. An artist determined to succeed when the whole world says you can't.

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Has this really come down to "who is a bigger money maker for our university -- the football player or the dancer?" when it comes to affording them equal time in the sports medicine clinic?

I just read an article today titled Report: Few Schools Profit From Sports that says in part:

 

INDIANAPOLIS - Only a handful of schools consistently make money on major sports, and big bucks don't necessarily translate into big wins, according to an NCAA report released Thursday.

...

The study also shows:

- Higher spending on football and basketball produced neither an increase nor a decrease in net operating revenue, on average, over the eight years covered by the study.

 

Full article can be found at http://start.earthlink.net/newsarticle?cat...D7STSJ902_story

 

G

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  • 1 month later...

We just found out yesterday that our DD, who is apprenticing out of state, is no longer covered by our health insurance. We had assumed that because she is under 25 and our dependent, she was covered, but according to our policy, since she lives out of state but is not a student, she is not covered at all. This month is open enrollment at my husband's employer, and we may be able to change to a plan that covers her. But maybe not. We are looking into Blue Cross/Blue Shield in the meantime. How do other parents of out-of-state kids handle this problem? Do most companies cover dependent children who are not students?

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Most insurance companies do not cover dependent children who are not still students. And even the student coverage runs out by 25. But individual policies for that age can be (relatively) inexpensive.

 

Does she have to be a full time student? Would a class of some sort meet the requirements? If she is an apprentice or trainee, she is still a student in some sense. (maybe not by the insurance interpretation.) Doesn't seems fair. Just one more problem for the moms and dads of dancers.

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Many insurance companies will consider full time ballet students in the same category as full time students. Ask the school if they would write a letter to the insurance company. I was fortunate to be able to continue using my insurance for my girls when they attended SAB and SFBS. If she is an apprentice, that will probably be seen as employment instead of a student situation, but you could ask the company to write a letter and see what happens. If the ballet company does not offer insurance for the apprentices they might be able to lead you toward a lower cost HMO plan in their area. Find out if the company offers insurance to their dancers and which insurance they use. The company manager should be able to give you the information that you need. Good luck--I know that this is a big concern to parents of young dancers.

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Guest kirovboy

In most cases, if you are still in a situation where there is training of some sort, and you can get the company which your daughter is dancing to speak with the insurance company if necessary, you should have no problem! I spent the last two years of my life at Kirov, then SAB. And while I was finished with my academic education at that time, I was still completely covered by my parents insurance at the ripe old age of 19. You just need to find the loopholes! If you have any more questions I'd be glad to help you out and give you my email address

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