TAMPA (FOX 13) - While federal health care reform was intended to provide universal coverage, millions of people continue to slip through the cracks -- including hundreds of thousands in Florida like Raymond Martineau, who thought they would not lose coverage when they get sick.
Martineau lined up a job in the Tampa Bay area and purchased a health insurance policy through Heathcare.gov. He could afford the policy because he qualified for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. However, he learned he had advanced cancer, and was unable to keep his job. As a result, he could not meet the income requirements under the ACA to retain his subsidies, and as a result lost his ability to keep his coverage.
"I've blacked out in hallway before, and my mom has had to pick me off the floor," said Martineau. "I feel like I'm just wasting away. And I need surgery and need to continue chemotherapy."
His mother postponed retirement so she could pay his premiums for him until he heals and returns to work. He was stunned by a series of notices he received in the mail, informing him that he could not keep his affordable care policy without proof of income, which he no long has because he became too sick to work.
"I've been working since I was a kid. I love to work. And that's the way I've always understood [insurance] to work. You go to work. You pay for it. And if you get sick and can't work, they help pay your medical bills to get you well, so you can go back to work," he said. "But now I'm caught in a Catch 22. If the premiums are being paid, why would you take my health care?"
When federal lawmakers passed Obamacare, they determined people with no money should not buy policies. Instead, they designed to law to offer them an expanded form of state-run Medicaid, fully funded by federal money for the first three years.
However, several states blocked an expansion of Medicaid. In Florida, Governor Rick Scott supported the expansion for three years, but then refused to support it after he won reelection.
Raymond Martineau received his final notice in March and has since lost his coverage.
"I just don't want to stop my treatments this far into them," he said. "I think about what my mom would go through if something happens to me. I don't think she could handle it… It's stressing me out big-time."
Florida continues to refuse around $50 billion from the federal government to expand health care services. The Republican-controlled Florida Senate tried to expand health care for the poor last year. The Florida House and Governor Scott blocked it, and the Senate did not fight for it this year.