You can have your pancakes eat them too — and don’t forget the beer.

NC MedAssist is hosting a Pancakes & Beer 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, November 5 starting at 9 a.m. at Sycamore Brewery.

Participants will be raising funds for the statewide nonprofit, which gives free medication to low-income, uninsured people in North Carolina. Headquartered in Charlotte, MedAssist offers three programs: the Free Pharmacy program, the Over-The-Counter (OTC) Medicine program and the Senior Care program.

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NC MedAssist provides life-saving prescription medication to over 14,000 patients, which improves their quality of life by treating chronic illnesses like diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Their goal is to fill the medicine cabinets of more than 20,000 people through its Over-the-Counter Give Away Day events held each month throughout the state. Participants receive more than $100 worth of OTC medicine and products free of charge.

Volunteers from the community and local corporations hand out the medicine and local medical professionals are on hand to consult with each of the participants. The next OTC Give Away Day will be held on October 21, 2016 in Charlotte.   

The pharmacy also helps individuals that have a health care coverage gap between other medical resources. Although the Affordable Care Act provides marketplace insurance options, many residents still can’t afford the monthly insurance premiums and have to opt-out. In fact, if a person’s insurance premiums are over 8 percent of their gross income, they can opt out of buying a policy without penalty. To make matters more challenging, Medicaid was not expanded in North Carolina, leaving these individuals at a crossroads between affording food or medicine.

North Carolina’s uninsured rate has been the highest in the nation, and only recently dropped thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The Raleigh News & Observer reported the rate of uninsured residents decreased from 17.3 percent in 2014 to 15.6 percent in 2015. That may not last long since insurance company Aetna’s decision to pull out of the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace insurance, leaving only Blue Cross Blue Shield as a possible insurance provider for people who can afford it — and they have requested a 19 percent increase in premiums for 2017.

This means NC MedAssist may need to serve more people who have been or are about to be uninsured. They’re hoping for a big turnout at the Pancake & Beer 5K to raise funds and awareness about the health needs of the uninsured people in North Carolina.

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To register for the NC MedAssist Pancakes and Beer 5K, presented by GreerWalker, visit www.RunNCMedassist.com.

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