MONEYWATCH – Edna Garcia thinks she has paid her dues. For 34 years, she worked as a public high school teacher in Bridgeport, Connecticut, while also serving as a local lawmaker for eight years. In her retirement, she volunteers at her church, where she helps members deal with health insurance problems.
“I have been beneficial to my community,” she told CBS MoneyWatch.
But for Garcia, 73, enjoying her retirement has been difficult. Despite having health insurance for retired teachers through UnitedHealthcare, she has struggled to afford medical treatment.
Garcia is diabetic, has Crohn’s disease, for which there is no cure, and suffers from a vision condition that has caused her eyesight to deteriorate over time.
Garcia, who also has Medicare Part A and B so she can keep her private plan, said her health insurance falls short of covering her medical expenses or paying for the treatment her doctors recommend.
“My eye doctor said the medication she wants to prescribe me for the problem I have is not covered by insurance. And I certainly cannot afford it,” she said.
Instead, she uses prescription eye drops that her insurance does cover, but that don’t properly treat her condition. “They don’t meet the needs for my eyes. So today I am going blind,” Garcia told CBS MoneyWatch.
Garcia is only one of the many Americans who say they are unable to get the medical care they need despite carrying health insurance.
Roughly 30% of working-age adults in the U.S. with health coverage said rising medical costs make it hard to afford essentials like food, utilities, car payments and loans, according to a recent survey from The Commonwealth Fund.
That forces millions of people to take on debt to pay for care or make difficult tradeoffs.
Garcia also said her insurance plan doesn’t cover Ozempic, a drug used to treat diabetes that has also grown popular for weight-loss and that can cost hundreds of dollars a month out of pocket …