Health Care

Loss of income could mean loss of sight

Edith G. Camacho, 52, visits the Doris Ison Health Center in March.
Edith G. Camacho, 52, visits the Doris Ison Health Center in March. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

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.

Last year, Edith G. Camacho had cataract surgery and received regular care from an ophthalmologist for glaucoma in both her eyes.

Camacho and her husband, Carlos, 49, were covered by a private plan through Aetna. With subsidies through Obamacare, the Camachos paid a monthly premium of $170 for their coverage.

But last year, Carlos Camacho’s small business, a lawn service, didn’t do as well as in 2013, and the family’s income fell below the federal poverty level.

That means the Camachos no longer qualify for the subsidy that made their Obamacare plan affordable. And because they are not disabled and their children are adults, the Camachos have fallen into the coverage gap.

“I asked them to give me another chance, to help me get a cheaper plan,’’ Edith Camacho, 52, said of her experience trying to re-enroll for a subsidized plan. “They said, ‘No.’ Obamacare can’t help us because we didn’t qualify.”

Camacho last saw the ophthalmologist in November. To treat her glaucoma, she uses two different prescription eye drops. She buys them with a discount at the Doris Ison Community Health Center, where she can see a primary care doctor for $25 a visit.

But there are no ophthalmologists at the center, Camacho said. A family doctor advised her to apply for a low-income program through Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. Camacho called in March, and received an appointment for late June.

“My eyes are very important to me ... but they won’t give me a chance to get covered,” she said. “That’s not right. How come people in other states have a right to Medicaid, and I don’t?”