WILLMAR — United Community Action Partnership has been awarded a grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation to improve access to health coverage, particularly among populations that are underserved.

The grant will enable United Community Action Partnership to increase its outreach to the Karen and Somali communities in Willmar and Marshall and their respective health care providers and systems. It also will support them in accessing health insurance and health care through the MNsure exchange and connect families to additional services.

Blue Cross awarded $1.4 million total to 12 nonprofits across the state to help increase the number of Minnesotans with health insurance. A recent survey by the Minnesota Department of Health and University of Minnesota found that the number of people without health insurance has been rising, from 4.3 percent in 2015 to 6.3 percent in 2017, leaving approximately 349,000 Minnesotans without coverage.