At this point, with my children living between 300 and 6000 miles away, I find myself recapturing concerns that were submerged in the day to day tasks of mothering. I have always been concerned about politics, and as my children are becoming more independent, I process most political concerns through the lens of "what will this change mean for them?" I am especially concerned about health insurance reform, now that two of the three are no longer eligible for coverage under our family policy.
I am uncomfortably aware that my interests as physician, mother and citizen are diverging. As a physician, I want beneficiaries to be able to see me at reasonable rates with minimum hassle for both of us. Out of network coverage, health savings accounts, and any other mechanism that subverts managed care seems the most desirable when I am sitting behind my office desk.
As a mother, on the other hand, I am devastated that the last remaining not- for- profit HMO in my state is being dropped by the employer who provides our insurance. Growing up, my asthmatic daughter never had an attack before 6:30 in the evening. Only by the grace of Kaiser did she avoid emergency rooms and hospital stays. The idea that we (and she) no longer have an evening urgent care clinic to go to gives me shivers. She has had several ER visits since moving away and has no regular doctor. No one but me now reminds her to have check ups and refill her prescriptions, as the HMO used to do.
Then there is citizen me, who believes that national, single payor health insurance is the only way to correct the disparities that deny care to so many—including my middle daughter who is likely to be uninsured when she returns from abroad and has not yet found a job. As a doctor, I am wary of having the same type of people who man the kiosks at the DMV involved in managing health insurance, but as a mother I would welcome it, if it meant this child would not be uninsured, however briefly that is likely to be.
Like everyone else on this blog, I wish that politics did not divide and distress us. But some day in the not too distant future, I expect to have to vote on what it is I really want to see in health care reform. To the extent that my identity extends beyond myself to my children and my community, I frankly have no idea what it will mean to have the courage of my convictions. It would certainly help if I actually knew what those convictions were.