I'm one of the lucky ones who has chosen - and gotten - paid work that provides health insurance. Good health insurance (a relative term, to be sure, in this country). But my partner isn't; he works for himself. Which, BTW, is a terrifically flexible parenting set-up. But as the sole health-insurance winner in our family of (now) four, the provision of this treasured resource has dominated every. single. one. of my employment decisions as a mother. Not exactly how I'd imagined pursuing a career.
I bring this all up not just because of the explosive events occurring around the country right now related to national health care reform, or even the impressive health care series that a Portland mama is writing over on Activistas, but because I wonder, as fellow Portland parents, how much your family's employment decisions are driven by access to health care?
While I am truly thrilled (which is in itself ridiculous) to have health care for my entire family through my work, I regret that the type and amount of work I do is driven by access to health care. We tried me working P/T with no health care and, while it was wonderful time-wise, it was perfectly dreadful vis-a-vis everything else: it was complicated, expensive, different plans for adults and kids, and - importantly - one child denied (yikes). No thanks, not again, not this mama.
Of course, "in this economy" it feels crazy to complain about any of this, honestly - I definitely get that. Yet, because health care reform is very much on the table, it seems relevant. I, for one, don't think access to health care should drive people's employment choices - parents or not. But untangling that historical link ain't gonna happen this year.
What employment decisions has your family made to access health care? Are they working? Are you happy with them? Or do you feel a bit trapped by it all, like I do? Or maybe you've found an excellent end-run that the rest of us should know about? If so, I'm all ears. This work-family balance thing is hard enough, without forcing my hand so I can take my kids to the doctor and prepare for unforseen illnesses without bankrupting my family.
It's a big topic, this health care reform. Big enough to scare even an incorrigable activist away. But when I think about it in terms of my family (and therefore all families), it seems important enough to dive right in.
[photo thansk to flickr CC & superhua]