This story has been updated.
New Jersey health organizations and hospital are waiving emergency care charges for furloughed workers during the government shutdown in the hopes that it may help them with financial struggles.
Inspira Health and CompleteCare Health Network joined Cape Regional Medical Center and Hackensack Meridian Health as health providers that are waiving co-pays, deductible charges and other out-of-pocket costs for emergency visits at network hospitals and urgent care centers for furloughed federal employees and their insured family members.
The average emergency room co-pay is between $50 and $150, depending on insurance plan, and deductibles can be thousands of dollars.
Officials at Inspira announced that furloughed patients with government IDs will not have to pay out-of-pocket costs at network emergency rooms in Bridgeton, Elmer, Vineland and Woodbury, or at the network's 11 urgent care offices.
Inspira hospital-based physicians who provide emergency, radiology, patholoy and anesthesia services are also waiving the charges related to these visits.
"We strive every day to take care of our community, in our community," said Inspira CEO and president John DiAngelo, "and we hope that this waiver can hep alleviate some financial burdens for furloughed employees in our shared home in South Jersey."
Inspira Fitness Connection monthly gym membership charges will also be waived for these workers, officials said.
Cape Regional's hospital in Cape May Court House and its urgent care centers in Marmora, Cape May Court House and Wildwood will waive co-pays and deductibles for workers. Hospital officials said patients should bring with them their government issued IDs and insurance cards, and should notify staff upon arrival.
CompleteCare Health Network announced Wednesday that it will cover out-of-pocket costs incurred by government workers and their families. Patients should bring ID and insurance cards to visits.
Furloughed employees and covered family members can get waived fees for emergency care at any of Hackensack Meridian’s 44 New Jersey urgent care centers and 17 hospitals, including Southern Ocean Medical Center in Stafford Township.
“We have seen the financial impact the federal government shut down has had on many families, and we want to ensure that people will receive the care they need without worrying about the cost,” Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian, said in a statement.
The government shutdown, which began Dec. 22 and has become the longest in the country’s history, impacts about 800,000 federal employees, including about 5,000 New Jersey residents.
“We are keenly aware of the burden that this shutdown has placed on our patients who are federal employees,” Robert Glenning, Hackensack Meridian chief financial officer, said in a statement. “We are eager to do our part to ease some of the financial worries these families are facing.
AtlantiCare announced on social media that it is collecting monetary donations at atlanticare.org/giving to distribute to organizations helping impacted federal employees. Organization officials said they will match the total donations up to $5,000.
AtlantiCare patients who are struggling to pay health care co-pays, deductibles and medical bills because of the shutdown are encouraged to speak with network financial counselors, officials said. Patients can call 888-569-1000 for help.
Collection boxes will be at the provider's two hospital campuses in Atlantic City and Galloway Township and at other AtlantiCare locations starting Friday for donations of food, personal hygiene products and pet food for local military members and federal employees and their families.
CompleteCare Health Network provides primary care, dental, mental health and specialty care in Cape May, Cumberland and Gloucester counties. Inspira Health contains several hospitals, specialty care units and offices, primary care and other services across South Jersey.
Cape Regional Health System serves residents and visitors throughout Cape May County with a hospital, urgent cares, and primary and specialty care offices.
Hackensack Meridian Health, a nonprofit health provider based in North Jersey, has hospitals in Bergen, Essex, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties, as well as urgent cares, primary care offices and specialty services throughout the state.