Sheila Franklin survived the barrage of hurricanes that battered Ft. Lauderdale this fall. Her house is standing, and she is all right. Now she is going back to face a different, yet equally treacherous foe: the health care industry and its callous disregard for American citizens, especially older citizens.
Sheila, 62, is in that no-man's land for people seeking health coverage - the early 60s, where they are too young for Medicare and viewed skeptically by health care plan providers who don't want to insure people with "pre-existing conditions" - which all people older than 50 surely have.
Sheila describes herself as "a good capitalist." For 30 years, she was an entrepreneur, running an executive search firm, importing jewelry, publishing. She was healthy, but nonetheless had insurance. A few years ago, as the premiums continued to rise, she opted for a different plan that, she was told, would cost her $373 a month, with no prescription drug coverage. Within months, that had risen to $1,111 a month.
Flabbergasted, Sheila tried to get to the bottom of things. The state of Florida told her they were "helpless" and that the insurance salesperson didn't have to reveal information about the plan because the company is chartered in Mississippi. She went to Mississippi to get justice. The Mississippi Insurance Commission empathized, but said it could do nothing because she lived in Florida.
"Now that I'm 62, there's no place to go," she says. With no coverage, she needs several prescription drugs - for calcium, rheumatoid arthritis, bone density, estrogen replacement. She is hopping aboard the Rx Express in hopes that she will be able to get some of these at affordable prices in Toronto.
Meanwhile, Sheila has been speaking out about the health care crisis.