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Fran Barker: $198
Fran Barker: $198
Fran Barker, with her husband, Phil Amoureux.
Age: 62
Occupation: Upholstery patternmaker
Hometown: Lake Forest Park, Wash.

I work at home making cushions, pillows, etc. for homes and boats. I have a little shop called "Gallerie Franzhiska," which is named after my grandmother.

When my last employer hit bad times, I loaned them money, and held onto paychecks. They rewarded me by not paying my insurance for four months and didn't let me know they had stopped paying. So my insurance was effectively canceled, and I when I found out, even the time period to sign up for COBRA benefits had lapsed.

After a couple of months, we were able to talk the insurance company into reinstating my insurance. Unfortunately, the only plan I can afford is the lowest-price HMO, at$198 per month. The HMO negotiates lower fees with local doctors, and I pay all of that reduced rate. It would be more than $400 a month to have insurance with co-payment; I can't afford that while I am starting a business.

If I ever hit the $2,500 annual deductible, then the insurance would cover 50% of just about everything. There is no coverage at the dentist or eye doctor.

My husband was in marketing for remodeling companies and lost his job, too. He's back in school to become a massage therapist. We aren't able to afford medical insurance for him, so because he is younger we have our fingers crossed and are watching the President's attempts at restructuring health care.

My thoughts on universal health care: I am hopeful because we can't afford health care. My niece, who is living with us while going to school can't afford insurance, either.

NEXT: Pamela Sinclair: $585

Last updated May 01 2009: 12:50 PM ET
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