Blue Cross NC to scoop up North Carolina FastMed locations

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is set to acquire 55 FastMed locations in the Old North State.

The deal, according to an announcement, allows the two North Carolina companies to join forces to improve care to people that they serve, allowing for greater access to critical services.

FastMed's offerings include telehealth, urgent care, occupational health, primary care and preventive services. Blue Cross NC said it will work with the FastMed team to identify areas to invest in and build on the patient experience at these locations.

“With approximately half of FastMed’s clinics located in rural areas of our state with limited access to health care resources, this is an important investment in North Carolina,” said Tunde Sotunde, M.D., Blue Cross NC’s CEO, in the press release. “This pending acquisition would fortify critical access points of care across the state and would benefit everyone, not just Blue Cross NC members."

"As a North Carolina-based, mission-driven, fully taxed, not-for-profit company, we serve all North Carolinians," Sotunde said.

The insurer noted in the announcement that FastMed is one of the many providers that have felt the sting of the ongoing provider shortage. Between 2016 and 2021, North Carolina alone lost 9% of its direct healthcare workforce. As such, Blue Cross NC's immediate plans for FastMed "would include returning to pre-pandemic service operations."

"This pending acquisition builds on Blue Cross NC’s existing investments and our longstanding commitment to making health care more affordable, accessible, and easier to navigate," according to the release. "With this next step, these locations can continue to be a critical resource in North Carolina communities, including those facing provider shortages."

Blue Cross NC has been a minority investor in FastMed since 2012, according to the announcement. FastMed will continue to operate independently and to serve patients who are not members of Blue Cross NC.

The two expect the deal to close in early 2024, pending regulatory approvals.