Uncovered: Charity Care Often Leaves Jersey City’s Undocumented with Bills

HUNTER COLLEGE–The morning of Jan. 26 would have been another normal day of work for Geeta, until an approaching truck left her disabled in a blink of an eye, fracturing both of her femur bones and collarbone, breaking her right arm and spraining her left wrist. Paramedics arrived. Police arrested the driver. Local media covered the incident. But for Geeta, 49, who now breathes on life support at Jersey City Medical Center, an RWJ Barnabas Health facility, upcoming medical bills are of greater concern. For Geeta and her husband, affordable health care, especially emergency services, is unimaginable.

“Doctors are saying that it may take her nine to 10 months to recover completely,” says Geeta’s husband, who agreed to talk on condition of anonymity due to fears of revealing his immigration status publicly.

The couple is among the 252,000 undocumented residents of Jersey City – a figure estimated by the non-partisan think tank Migration Policy Institute – who lack access to health insurance. Options to tackle medical costs are limited, but they do exist.