For two years, Florida legislators have refused to expand Medicaid as envisioned under the Affordable Care Act. Their decision left an estimated 850,000 Floridians without healthcare insurance in the "coverage gap." Here are some of their stories.
When Vanessa Wilcox was laid off from her job as a phlebotomist at a research facility in 2013, she was only a few years away from qualifying for Medicare.
Caught in the coverage gap, Wilcox, 61, found healthcare through a Florida International University mobile clinic in exchange for allowing students to work with her.
Wilcox has high blood pressure and other medical conditions, including an infection that caused a recurring fever.
A phlebotomist for more than 25 years, Wilcox said she has been unable to find full-time work that also provides health insurance benefits.
She earns about $700 a month from a boarder who rents a room in her home, financial assistance from her adult son and odd jobs decorating and cleaning homes.
In 2013, Wilcox went to the emergency room at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood for night chills, sweats and numbness. A four-day stay resulted in a $32,000 hospital bill that she cannot pay.
Wilcox said when she first learned that she was in the coverage gap, she was confused.
“I was blown away,’’ she said. “Why would I have to be 65, and why would I have to have young children? And why would I have to be disabled? I didn’t get it.”
- DANIEL CHANG
Falling into the coverage gap | Back to series homepage
▪ “I feel left over, left back.’’ — Paula Bazain, caregiver
▪ “What kind of country are we? Everybody needs insurance” — Francesca Corr, single mother
▪ “I can’t live a normal life.’’ — Genesis Rodriguez, automotive tech student
▪ “Normally, you go to the doctor when something like that happens.’’ — Carlos Cuervo, salesman
▪ “One minute you receive Medicaid, and the next minute it’s gone.’’ — Ceslynn Watkins, former customer service rep
▪ “I knew exactly right away what it was because I’d felt it before. I was having a heart attack.’’ — Eric Schmidt, former construction worker
▪ “It wasn’t the welcome that I wanted from Florida.’’ — Harry Melo, student
▪ “They just tell me I’ve been denied. Every time.” —Timothy Lane, former landscaper
▪ “I wish I had insurance, so I can go to a private doctor.’’ — Cynthia Louis, waiting a year to see a specialist
▪ “It’s totally unfair that when you’re in need of help, you can’t get it.’’ — Vanessa Wilcox, former phlebotomist
▪ “They won’t give me a chance. That’s not right. ... I can go blind.” — Edith G. Camacho, homemaker
▪ “I would benefit more from Medicaid expansion than charity care.’’ — Vincent Adderly, former security guard