How to Choose Health Insurance as a Single Parent

unnamedI am a single mom of two beautiful grown daughters. Early on, I didn’t think much about health insurance. I assumed life would be fine, our family would stay whole and healthy.

Then one of my daughters was born with a life-threatening condition. Later, their father and I decided to divorce and I began to care for the children on my own. At that point, I had some hard decisions to make, one of which was how to make sure I was properly insured for my daughter’s health needs.

This is how life is. You often must make tough choices when you are least prepared. Here is what I did.

First, I recognized the importance of health insurance. My daughter was in and out of the hospital a lot. As a single mom, there was no way for me to pay for all of our medical bills or for the supplies we needed.

After reviewing my employer’s health insurance, I changed jobs so that we could have better health coverage. I was lucky to get a job at the hospital where many of my daughter’s doctors were located. Now there is the option of signing up for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act, but at the time, the only way for me to change health insurance was to change jobs.

At that time, I also had to take the risk that my new employer would refuse to pay for my daughter’s care because her condition might be considered pre-existing. Under the Affordable Care Act, you can change jobs and your new employer can’t refuse to cover care due to pre-existing conditions.

Next, I made sure that the doctors and hospitals taking care of my daughter participated in my new insurance plan. It was very important to me that she continue to receive the expert care that she needed with the providers who were already familiar with her case. By making sure those doctors and hospitals participated in my plan, I avoided overwhelming medical bills.

When I first started looking at new insurance plans, I was tempted to just look at the monthly premium cost. I was single mom with a new job, and that monthly cost represented a huge chunk of my paycheck. But my first priority was to keep my daughter’s doctors who had taken such good care of her. If I had gone with a cheaper insurance, I would have had to  to pick new doctors or pay huge bills because those doctors weren’t part of my health plan. By saving $100 a month, I might have been signing up for $1,000s in uncovered expenses.

I’m happy to report that we received amazing care, and both of my daughters are healthy and grown. It was a tough time, but we made it through with great insurance and didn’t get saddled with a ton of medical bills.

When you have tough choices, it can be overwhelming. I know, I’ve been there. But with the right information, you can be have the peace of mind that you’ve made the right decisions for you and your family.


Trying to figure out health insurance? Get my book Choose Your Best Health Insurance for detailed assistance on how to decide which insurance plan is right for you and your family.

How I Helped My Dad Choose Assisted Living

DadMePortraitMy dad, Rev. William “Tex” Rickard was a United Methodist pastor, an athlete, a jokester, father to six amazing children and an all-around great guy. He could watch a ball game with you or listen to your deepest fears. He helped me — a single mom — raise my two beautiful girls and our crazy dog, Chloe.

My dad took very good care of himself for his whole life, so we were unprepared when he had emergency back surgery at the age of 88 years.

This was tough for me, but even more so for him. After all, as a proud, strong minister, he took care of other people. He didn’t need people to care for him. After so many years of independence, we decided the best plan was to move him into an assisted living facility.

We approached the move directly by taking time to do a few things: 

  1. Tour the local facilities.
  2. Make a list of costs and services.
  3. Talk to staff to find out how they interact with residents.
  4. Eat at the facility to see how the food was and to get a sense of community at meal times.

We learned a lot during a journey. We made some good choices along the way and also some mistakes. Our most important lesson was that communication is the key.

When preparing to move a loved one to an assisted living facility, you and your loved one have to be prepared to communicate with your family and the facility about your priorities. There is no one right answer. You have to decide what will work best for your loved one.

To help guide your decision about assisted living, I have written Easy Healthcare: Choosing an Assisted Living Facility, available in book and ebook format. It tells you what conversations to have, what to consider as you research facilities and how to make the experience as smooth as possible for you and your loved one.

How to Get Your Medical Records

Did you know that you own your medical records? In this video, I explain what information you can get from your doctor and how to obtain access to your private medical chart.


Trying to figure out health insurance? Get my book Choose Your Best Health Insurance for detailed assistance on how to decide which insurance plan is right for you and your family.