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Regence Gift to Health Department Helps Uninsured During Economic Downturn

December 10, 2009

TACOMA - Regence BlueShield made a $45,000 grant to Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department's Access to Care program for its efforts to connect uninsured families to health insurance in today's difficult economy. The program works to make sure that every eligible child in Pierce County is insured.

"The economic downturn and decrease in the number of jobs with health benefits have hit those least able to afford private health insurance the hardest," said David Vance, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Division Director for Access to Care. "This generous gift from Regence Blue Shield will help ensure the Access to Care program remains available to Pierce County families in these difficult economic times."

From 2001 to 2007, an average of 260 people were enrolled in the Access to Care program annually. However, in 2008 as the economy worsened, program enrollment nearly tripled to 773. Enrollment through November 1, 2009 is already at 803 and is on pace to reach 965 people this year, a 25% increase over 2008 and a nearly 300% increase over 2001-2007.

"We were working hard to manage our lives and our small business when the premature birth of our twins put us in financial crisis," said an Access to Care enrollee. "Despite having purchased private health insurance coverage we were unable to handle the mounting bills for our daughters' hospital care. Access to Care assisted us in applying for state medical benefits and ensured we had ongoing coverage for our children's medical needs. As enrollees in Access to Care, we save close to $500 every month. That is basically food money for us."

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department's Access to Care program works to increase the number of insured children in Pierce County by helping families determine eligibility for Medicaid and connecting them to a medical home. For information visit

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