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

Comments (15)
  1. Rosalie Klaustermeier says:

    Where can older single people go to get help with medical bills that they are having a hard time paying due to hours and rate of pay, most of the time I don’t have enough left to pay on any medical bills as what i am making for wages goes for everyday living expenses. I am going on 49, have some medical problems, have exsisting medical bills but having a hard time paying on them. Please let me know if you know of any place that would be able to help me, I don’t qualify for medical assistance as they say I make to much, so what is a person to do.

  2. Pat says:

    Agreed, this is not aimed at the middle class, it’s aimed at children. What about the rest of us? What about some form of help for people who have jobs and pay taxes?

  3. ws says:

    what about us who lost their insurance when they lost his job 4 yrs ago.?After 24 yrs of employment ! My husband is working now (self Employed) but for 4 yrs we have had no insurance for us, (51 yrs old) and our son, (14 yrs old) We all have teeth to that are falling apart but cant afford to go to a dentist for sure! We are middle class so where’s the help???????

    1. sb says:

      I Totally agree with you, ws. My teeth are falling apart too.. and my local dentists won’t even Look at any of these reduced dental plans.. so ‘people like us’ can get a break. Yet they’re more than happy to go to foreign countries to do Free work on those kids! Sure, granted, there’s a great need for that.. but there’s a Great Need Here Too! .. and I’m not even asking for Free!

  4. Frustrated says:

    My husband and I have the same problem. We have too much income to qualify for any kind of help. But between the medical insurance of $400 a month for just one of us with a $10,000 deductible, it’s been very frustrating for us! We just got done paying our health insurance plus a $4500 hospital bill! Hey, I thought Obamacare was suppose to help, and now Obamacare isn’t doing the average tax payer any good! The problem is if you go into some kind of surgery, the bill is huge! I went in and spent 1 hour for hernia surgery, and the hospital cost was $4500…just goes to show you how much profit hospitals make.

  5. Bruce Bonner says:

    Folks we can help reduce your medical bills

  6. DJP says:

    I agree with all the comments about no help for single people. It seems that if you do not have kids, you are on your own. I am on unemployment, have no health insurance and can barely meet what bills I have now without re-paying medical expenses I already have (from having no insurance). Too bad I cannot claim my cat as a dependent!!!
    I think todays society is too kid-concerned and forget there are a lot of us out there that do not have kids, but pay taxes and help support those that DO have kids!!
    Time to look at ALL of us in society!!!

  7. Courteney says:

    United HealthCare gets it’s money from it’s subscribers; one of which is me. I would rather have the money going to aleviate my monthly premiums and co-pays. And like everyone else was saying, why is it only for kids? If you don’t have kids or are an older adult with grown kids you are on your own. That’s wrong.

    It’s totally unfair that people with kids continually get breaks. They get tax breaks (even though they are using more social resources, like education), they get healthcare breaks (I pay $160 a month per person on my plan because it is me and my spouse with no kids; my BIL pays $68 a month per person on the same plan because he has 4 kids.)

  8. Jake says:

    I think it’s great that they offer this to middle class families. I’m luckily not in need of being a recipient but I can see how it would be helpful. As adults, many times we have gotten ourselves into situations, such as not taking care of our diabetes, not eating healthy – so then we end up with say, cholecystitis and need the gallbladder removed. Kids, on the other hand, can’t help their situation they’re in when they get sick, etc. I can’t believe the selfishness of Courteney and others about how they’ve gotten the short end and these kids already get breaks. She obviously has no children. Why is everyone whining about what others have, if this company wants to do this for others, why do you care? According to these other comments, they should have just pocketed the money and not offered any help at all to anyone. Looks like the “spread the wealth” thinking is rampant.

  9. Kari says:

    Jake is RIGHT!! I have 2 children and I currently also have medical problems. Mine are from childhood (nothing I did myself) and my children have minor health issues but Adults need to grow up and realize that the world is not far and nothing is going to happen complaining on a blog about free $$ for sick kids!! Get a life!!

  10. Annette Brennan says:

    I am shocked at the selfishness of some of you people. How can you complain that this fund is helping children and not helping YOU? Times are hard for everyone, but come on are you really that greedy? Don’t you know that parents of sick or disabled would give anything in the world not to need this help? For many children early treatment can make a huge improvement in their lives, for the rest of their lives. Instead of bemoaning the fact that this fund is helping children, we should all be happy that at least it’s helping SOMEONE and children by far are the most worthy of help. I bet if you told a sick or disabled child that a fund was helping sick adults they would NOt be whining that it wasn’t helping them.

    1. Tammy C says:

      Well said and I agree!

  11. Courteney says:

    Don’t call me selfish because I don’t want the money that I pay into these companies to go to charities that I don’t choose. If/when I give to charities I should have 100% of the choice on which ones to support. I’m not saying that this cause isn’t good (that’s for each person to decide), but I want my money going somewhere else. If YOU want to help these families pay for their kids medical care that is your right. However, I have the same right to say I want my money going towards another cause. Yes, I personally feel there are enough things out there to help people with kids. I prefer to donate my money to relief causes and animals. That is my PERSONAL choice. When companies take the money they get from people like me and give it to a cause of their choosing it is wrong. Give the money back to the customers and let me decide what to do with my own money. It’s only right. It’s the fair thing to do.

    1. Lucy says:

      It’s charity. Don’t be so selfish. LOTS of companies give to charities, some of which aren’t ones I personally support, but frankly, I’m glad people get the help they need whether or not it’s my charity of choice. I’m sure if you needed it, you’d be the first in line with your hand out. Stop having such a cold, black heart, Courteney. You’re disgusting.

  12. l says:

    i have a job and medical insurance, because of getting sick in december and then january two co pays for $5,000.00 help me please!!