However, this does not mean that the care is free. The hospital may still attempt to collect for the services rendered. The hospital cannot deny emergency treatment, simply because you lack insurance and money. Once treatment is rendered you may be eligible for the New Jersey Hospital Care Assistance Program, known as “Charity Care”. Not everyone who is uninsured is eligible for Charity Care. There are income and asset limitations and you must fill out an application and questionnaire, which requires you to disclose your financial information. If you believe that you may be eligible, you should apply at the hospital where you were treated.
The requirement that hospitals provide medical care does not apply to all conditions and treatment. New Jersey Statute’s do not require hospitals to provide elective procedures. If you are experiencing a life threatening medical emergency, such as a heart attack, you must be treated. However, if you desire an elective procedure such as a cosmetic nose job or tummy tuck, you will still require insurance or the cash to pay for the treatment.
While hospitals and doctors are required to administer emergency care when a patient arrives at the hospital, challenges arise once these individuals are stabilized and are seeking longer term care. Without insurance, long term health and rehabilitation centers often refuse to take the patients. This often results in uninsured patients overstaying at acute care facilities since they effectively have no other place to go. Recently, one of our clients, who lacked insurance and suffered a severe brain injury in a car crash, found herself in exactly this situation. Fortunately, we were able to intervene and assist in arranging care at a rehab, and the patient is now making a good recovery.
Trying to navigate the health care system following a severe injury presents a daunting challenge. If you have been injured and are having difficulty obtaining adequate medical treatment, we may be able to help you.