COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Retired Ohio police and firefighters who decided to spend their golden years in the sun are now dealing with a dark cloud.
As retired first responders here at home deal with the health benefits crisis, NBC4’s Colleen Marshall uncovered those who moved out of state are learning they may have no coverage at all.
“We’re people, we’re not numbers, and our lives depend on having the insurance that we were promised we were going to have,” said retired police officer Traci Priest.
Two years after moving to Florida, Traci received devastating news, stage two breast cancer. It got even worse in January when she went for her second round of chemo and learned she had no insurance coverage.
Unable to pay for treatment and unwilling to leave her family with her debts, Traci thought for a time that she is better off dying. Instead, she started searching for someone who would insure her.
“What they did was wrong. They didn’t even notify me. I found out through my pharmacist that I had no coverage,” said Traci.
For Traci, other retirees who move out of state, even retirees who just travel, there will be no coverage.
When Colleen Marshall talked to Pension Board CEO John Gallagher last month, he said there would be no coverage for anyone who is outside Ohio’s borders, even temporarily.
“There’s a certain peace of mind that you can travel around the whole country and be covered by health care,” said Gallagher. “Unfortunately, that is one of the sacrifices that our membership has had to give up in this transition and we sympathize with that loss of comfort.”
Retirees, who spent decades fighting fires and crime, risking their lives every day, now say they are afraid to go on vacation outside the state. If they are in an accident, they could be unable to pay for life-saving medical care.