DURHAM, N.C. – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC), as part of its commitment to serve all 100 counties in North Carolina, announced an investment of $8 million toward initiatives addressing the unique challenges facing rural areas across the state.
“Blue Cross NC is committed to improving the health and well-being of every North Carolinian, no matter what part of the state they call home,” said Cheryl Parquet, director of community and diversity engagement at Blue Cross NC. “That’s why we’re investing in programs that support rural areas across the state, helping local leaders, businesses and organizations improve the health of their communities.”
About  40 percent of North Carolinians—around 4 million people—live in one of the state’s 80 rural counties. Rural areas of North Carolina have higher rates of drug and alcohol use, suicide, injury, and teen births. Additionally, rural areas see much higher rates of uninsured or underinsured patients. 
Part of improving rural health means taking a closer look at the factors that have the greatest impact on overall health. These factors can include access to quality care, having a safe community, and issues that affect the personal lives of North Carolinians. For instance, research has shown that a  majority of people have an unmet social need, such as housing and transportation, that has a negative impact on health.  
Blue Cross NC’s investment will fund eight programs, made up of nine organizations, that are uniquely positioned to improve health within the rural areas they serve – everything from empowering first responders on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, expanding access to quality care to uninsured patients, and providing health-centered home repairs.
Programs to receive funding include:
North Carolina Community Action Association  
     o To expand the Healthy Home Initiative to an additional 38 rural counties and 165 additional families. The initiative makes health-centered home repairs for families in the far western and eastern parts of North Carolina. 
North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition 
     o To expand access to Naloxone/Narcan for EMS First Responders on the front lines of preventing overdose deaths. 
North Carolina Community Colleges  
     o To support technology and scholarships benefitting more than 4,000 students.
NC State Firefighters Association
     o To help volunteer fire and rescue departments purchase quality equipment and supplies to do their jobs correctly.
East Carolina University and Appalachian State University
     o To support scholarships awarded to community college transfer students who wish to teach in their home communities.
     o Increase interpersonal violence screening through the Lethality Assessment Program (LAP) program, a lifesaving intervention for families experiencing domestic violence.
NC Association of Free & Charitable Clinics
     o To expand quality programs for health care delivery to the uninsured, focusing on the role of social determinant interventions in improving health for the population. 
    o To expand Learn to Swim, a YMCA program offering free swim lessons to children from Title I schools during the school year.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) improves the health and well-being of our customers and communities by providing innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.9 million members, including approximately 1.1 million served on behalf of other Blue Plans. Since 1933, we have worked to make North Carolina a better place to live through our support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Visit Blue Cross NC online at bluecrossnc.com. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.



[1] NC Rural Center based on 2014 Census Data
[1] https://healthcare.mckinsey.com/insights-mckinsey-2019-consumer-social-determinants-health-survey