CAMP HILL, Pa. Hundreds of uninsured individuals are referred each year to the Schuylkill Alliance for Health Care Access, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the availability of and access to primary and preventive medical, dental and behavioral services for the residents of Schuylkill County.

An increasing number of those individuals are also unemployed and have chronic conditions.

Through a $15,000 grant from Highmark Blue Shield, the Schuylkill Alliance's safety net program, Health Care Access, will expand services so those individuals can stay on a health maintenance program and remain employable while on the path to find employment.

"This program is simple, but certainly needs support," said Judith Schweich, executive director of Schuylkill Alliance for Health Care Access. "One of our main goals is to ensure that individuals who are unemployed have access to health care. While they are pursuing employment, it's important that they continue to receive proper prescriptions and treatment for health needs. Our partnership with Highmark Blue Shield will help fill that much needed health care gap for individuals in Schuylkill County. It's imperative to the community that we continue in these efforts."

The Health Care Access program encourages access to primary and preventive care and helps reduce unnecessary use of emergency rooms as a resource for primary care.

Through the use of a membership card, individuals can receive affordable care and a continuity of care and case management for their chronic conditions.

"This program is so important because it doesn't just provide greater access to care, but it helps serve as the catalyst for change for many individuals," said Susan Hubley, Highmark Blue Shield director of community affairs. "Schuylkill Alliance offers the assurance to our community that individuals don't have to compromise their health."

Since 2006, the Schuylkill Alliance for Health Care has provided more than $5 million in health care access, including prescriptions for its clients at a cost of less than $1 million. More than 3,000 Schuylkill county residents have used the program, with more than 1,100 currently enrolled.

For more information, or to enroll in the Schuylkill Alliance for Health Care, contact (570) 628-5515.