Chapel Hill, N.C. — 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.