January 15, 2012

USA: Facing Hurdles to Keep Medical Insurance Coverage

LAKELAND, Florida / The Ledger / Life / January 15, 2012

Jean and Al Warner have struggled to keep up medical insurance
payments since losing their jobs and recent health issues.

Pierre Ducharme / The Ledger
By Elvia Malagon, THE LEDGER

AUBURNDALE | Jean and Al Warner thought they would settle into an easier life before retiring. But 2011 proved to be one of the couple's most turbulent years. As they were paying off medical bills from a heart attack Al Warner suffered, both lost their jobs, and Jean Warner was diagnosed with lung cancer.

"It's like starting all over, like 20 years ago," he said.

The Warners are originally from New Hampshire and have lived in Polk County for 27 years. They raised three children and thought their life was going to slow down as they approached retirement.
But in September 2010, Al Warner had a heart attack. He was able to recover and go back to work, but they were left with medical bills. In January 2011, he found himself without a job when Cutrale, where he had worked for 25 years, eliminated his department.
Despite the loss of income, the couple knew they could get through the hurdles.
Al Warner, 52, looked for a job, and Jean Warner, 56, continued working at Tri-County Human Services. The couple cut back on expenses, including an insurance plan that would cover medical bills if one of them was diagnosed with cancer.
It's one expense she wished she never cut out of the family's budget. Jean Warner has 10 siblings, five of whom have been diagnosed with different types of cancer. Still, she was hopeful she would remain cancer-free.
"I made the wrong decision," she said.
Late last summer, her face started to swell. A doctor gave her medicine thinking it could be an allergic reaction. It wasn't.
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