Changing Lives, One Child at a Time

UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation serves kids and families by funding medical services and equipment not covered by insurance.

By Diana Price 

Any family who has faced unexpected medical bills knows the stress that these expenses can cause. Even if you are fully insured, some medi­cal services and equipment may not be covered or may be only partially covered. Parents whose children are facing an illness or injury and confront this situation should know that there is help to cover these costs.

UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF) provides medical grants to families in need of financial assistance to help pay for their child’s healthcare treat­ments, services, or equipment not covered, or not fully covered, by their commercial health insurance plan.

The foundation was founded in 1999 and expanded to include all 50 states in 2004. Matt Peterson, UHCCF president, says that the organization initially raised funds through contributions from UnitedHealth Group employees to fund the grants, and it engaged its brokers in local communities, as well as hospital executives and community leaders around the country, to serve on the UHCCF board of directors.

In the 11 years since the organization’s founding, Peterson says, UHCCF has awarded to children and their families more than 8,500 grants valued at over $26 million. The grants, which can be up to $5,000 annually ($10,000 lifetime maxi­mum per child), are available to kids 16 years and younger in all 50 states.

Peterson says that there is really no “typical” recipient; families do not need to have insurance through UnitedHealthcare to be eligible, and past recipients have used the funds to pay for medical services and equipment ranging from physical or occu­pational therapy and hearing aids to sur­gery and prescription medications. What is consistent among recipients, he says, is the transformative power of these funds: “The medical grants are life-changing. They enable families to focus on their chil­dren’s health instead of worrying about how they’ll pay their medical bills.”

For Salt Lake City, Utah, mom Paige Strate, the UHCCF grant awarded to her daughter, Luisa, was invaluable. Luisa, then age three, was diagnosed with mod­erate bilateral conductive hearing loss, requiring ear molds, hearing aids, and ex­tensive testing and follow-up care, which caused a significant financial burden. The grant helped cover these necessary costs, lightening the load for the family. “To be able to provide for Luisa exactly what her medical team advised in order to help her has been more than a blessing and some­thing I will forever be grateful for,” Paige says.

While UHCCF has worked to widely promote grants like the one made to Luisa via its website (uhccf.org), word-of-mouth, providers, and community organizations, Peter­son says the organization would love for more families to benefit from the grants: “We’re working hard to increase awareness of the grant program so we can help more fami­lies and children in need.”

As Peterson and UHCCF continue to work to get the word out, he says the organization is inspired by the sto­ries families regularly share about the impact of the grants. “Not a day goes by when we don’t hear from a family about how a grant changed their lives for the better,” he says. “To prevent a personal bankruptcy due to a medical event and provide funds for something such as a hearing aid or wheel­chair for a growing child—that’s what we’re all about. We are very fortunate to have the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful kids and families.”

For more information visit uhccf.org.