Local News

Blue Cross to Invest $10M in Free Clinics

Posted April 9, 2008

— The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation announced Wednesday that it would invest $10 million in the North Carolina Association of Free Clinics, starting in 2009.

"Free clinics do an incredible job of helping to address the health care needs of North Carolina's underserved and uninsured," Bob Greczyn, foundation chairman and Blue Cross chief executive, said in a statement.

The foundation and the Association of Free Clinics launched their first five-year, $10 million partnership in 2004. Since then, the number of free clinics and counties served have each grown by 32 percent, and total patient visits have increased by almost 50 percent.

Free clinics are nonprofit community-based organizations that provide a combination of medical and dental care, as well as prescription medications. They receive no federal, state or insurance reimbursement for services.

North Carolina has the nation's largest association of free clinics. Seventy-four clinics serve individuals and families in 79 counties statewide, providing $186 million in health care.

"We couldn't offer the quality health care services we do to help people with their basic medical needs without the support of the community," Mike Darrow, executive director of the Association of Free Clinics, said in the statement.


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  • blinky1979 Apr 10, 2008

    It makes no sense that Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina spend $10 million on free clinics. They are over charging their customers in order to provide these "free" clinics for people who don't have insurance. I was a BCBS customer in 2006 and was paying $160 a month. I left BCBS at the end of 2006 for another health care provider. Then when I tried to go back to BCBS earlier this year, they wanted to charge me over $400 a month for insurance coverage. It's not like they cover alot in the first place. With United HealthCare, I was paying $30 for a 90-day prescription and BCBS wanted me to pay $105 for a 90-day prescription. Something is TOTALLY wrong here!!!

  • whatelseisnew Apr 9, 2008

    I don't have a lot of facts on how this all works, but this whole provider network seems like collusion to me. I can not think of any other industry where one business can set prices with another business and it is legal. I guess it is supposed to help hold down costs, but mainly it seems to benefit the insurance companies. This is anecdotal, but I used to pay a doctor cash for a treatment I received about 8 times a year. This doctor provided a price break if you paid cash. Near the end of the year I would finally exceed my deductible and I would file with my insurance company. So they only paid a claim on a reduced cost point; thus saving the doctor money, me money and the insurance company money. My company switched insurers and now I can not do that process. The new insurer requires a claim be filed each time by the doctor. The cost is more than double, the doctor gets paid less than I used to pay him and writes off the difference. Plus my deductible was quadrupled.

  • jennmc Apr 9, 2008

    Ideally, these free clinics will prevent people from going to the ER for minor injuries/illnesses. In turn, ER service will improve and hospital costs decrease because people are going elsewhere for their services.

    However, I have paid over $9k in the last 4 years for my health coverage, as a healthy under 25 female, with no maternity coverage.

    At least this will provide a benefit for the community verses the $$$ spent at Pinehurst for the golf tournament tent.

  • godukebasketball Apr 9, 2008

    Well, if you notice, in 2004, the BCBS Foundation launced their 5-year, $10 mil partnership. So this isn't a sudden over night increase in expense...they have apparently been spending $2 mil a year for the past few years.

  • Zelda Apr 9, 2008

    I know this may not be as popular as the high costs of health care in terms of premiums and I don't want to diminish that, but you should know that BCBS also pays their preferred providers (the people you see listed as in network)terribly. In my area of specialty, we have been receiving the same rate for ten or fifteen years with no increases. What other business works like that? Meanwhile, this "nonprofit" has record breaking profits and their executives are making a small fortune. What gives?

  • are we there yet Apr 9, 2008

    "Seventy-four clinics serve individuals and families in 79 counties statewide"

    I'd like to know where the closest one is !!

  • Carolinagirl4Morals Apr 9, 2008

    Gosh I wonder if bcbs policy holders could get service at these free clinic since we are funding them. And with a Salary of 2.5Million dollars a year I am sure Mr. Bob Greczyn does not care about the cost of his health care nor the policy holders he services! This is an absolute outrage, policy holders should ban together for this money to be used to lower our premiums.

  • piratepeople Apr 9, 2008

    Mr.keeping it real- not all services offered at your local health department are completely free nor are all of them funded by tax dollars. As a county employee, I get tired of being blasted when people think their vaccines to travel abroad are funded by tax dollars. As if!! Many services are only offered to those who have no insurance or are medicaid eligible. Others, such as childhood vaccines are furnished to any child by the state.

  • mooremotox Apr 9, 2008

    sounds like we need to drop bcbs and look elsewhere for insurance. do you know of any better?

  • Wheelman Apr 9, 2008

    Glass Half Full - BCBS has their hand in my pocket big time, and it burns me up when I see what they pay the CEO etc.. You get a big AMEN from me!