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MN Company Helps Families Pay For Medical Expenses

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CBS Minnesota (con't)

Affordable Care Act Updates: CBSMinnesota.com/ACA

Health News & Information: CBSMinnesota.com/Health

By Dennis Douda, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Healthcare costs can break any family, no matter how much they make. But a Minnesota company is offering thousands of dollars in help to middle-class families. However, few Minnesotans are taking advantage of it.

Drew Kalal seems like any other happy, healthy, 6 year old, with his video games and pet hamster. Behind those bright eyes and friendly face, though, Kalal has some problems.

“He would come home and say, ‘They want to know why I talk like a baby,’” said his mother, Breanna Kalal. “To hear your child say that as a parent is just crushing.”

Drew Kalal had severe speech delay, and issues with motor skills. And even though his parents have insurance, the co-pays were burning up money.

“Well, when you’re being seen two to three times per week, we were averaging $400 to $500 a month just in medical bills,” Breanna Kalal said.

So, she was thrilled when a fellow mother told her about special United Healthcare Children’s Foundation medical grants aimed at the middle class. She applied, and was accepted.

“It sounds a little cheesy, but it was almost like winning the lottery,” she said. “I mean, you open it up and it’s disbelief that you’ve been awarded a $5,000 medical grant.”

The United Healthcare Children’s Foundation awarded 787 of those grants last year, averaging about $3,400 apiece, but only 11 came from Minnesota.

“We have very strong participation outside the state of Minnesota,” said Matt Peterson, president of the foundation. “We want to drive greater awareness in Minnesota. This is our backyard and we’d love to see more.”

Peterson wants to make sure Minnesotans know the rules. The child must be 16 or under, with uncovered medical or therapy needs. The parents must meet certain income limits, and have medical insurance. However, it doesn’t have to be with United Healthcare Insurance.

“The majority of these grants go to non-United Healthcare customers,” he said. “So if people think they have to carry a United Healthcare card, that’s actually not true.”

Drew Kalal is proof that the money can help. Even after just six months of therapy, he has made substantial progress.

“He was at about a 55 percent intelligibility,” said his mom, “so people were only able to understand about half of what he was saying, and he’s now at 80 percent, so it’s been a huge increase.”

His story is proof that some things really aren’t too good to be true.

“Somebody really is giving free money,” Breanna Kalal said. “It’s true. I can vouch for it.”

The income limits include much of the middle class. You can check them out at http://uhccf.org/apply_applicant.html.

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