Posted: Jul 16, 2012 10:09 AM by NBC News (CC)
It is devastating for families when a child is stricken with a serious illness or injury.
Many parents cannot afford treatment, which only adds to the heartache; however, there are some grants available to help pay for the care their child needs.
Nine-year-old Reid Panayakul is a bundle of energy, but at any moment his parents know he could drop to the floor with a seizure.
Reid has a rare condition known as Dravet syndrome.
"Dravet syndrome is a genetic epilepsy and so therefore it's not cureable. It's who he is and there's different levels of it. Reid is on the more severe end of it where it has impaired him cognitively. He has no language, no receptive language, he is fed via a feeding tube so he takes nothing by mouth," said his mother, Allison.
When Reid drops with a seizure, Allison said it is like dead weight. This family was in desperate need of a lift, but their insurance would not cover it and they did not have $5,000 to pay for one.
It was their good fortune that, last summer, they learned about the five-year-old non-profit United Healthcare Children's Foundation.
"It came about to follow the mission of United Health Care, which is to help people lead healthier lives and fill a need for children and families who have a gap in coverage and need help in providing solutions and therapies and durable medical equipment and things that are not covered and this foundation helps cover them," said Stephen Farrell of United Healthcare.
"We just filled the application out on line. We sent it through and they got in touch with us," said Allison.
As a result, the Panayakul's were able to buy the lift for their son and it is mobile in case he has a sudden seizure or just to get him from point A to point B. Allison calls it a quality of life saver, "it has meant a lot to us as a family."
The grant money is available to anyone who meets the guidelines who already has commercial insurance. It does not cover folks on medicare or medicaid.
NBC has provided the following information on medical grants for children:
United Healthcare Children's Foundation
This nonprofit organization provides grants for services not covered by health plans. Grants typically are worth up to $5,000, although exceptions apply. Funds do not go directly to the parent or guardian, but to approved medical invoices. Children must be 16 or younger and live in the United States. Family income limits also apply.
Aubrey Rose Foundation
Honoring the memory of Aubrey Rose, who lost her battle with heart and lung ailments before reaching age 3, this group provides funds for families dealing with the medical expenses of children with life-threatening illnesses. Applicants should submit a letter of inquiry, including information about themselves, their child's medical situation and what benefits they would like to receive. You'll also need to provide insurance information, if applicable, and outstanding bills. Based on need, awards are distributed on a quarterly basis.
Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation
This foundation provides medical grants to young cancer patients and their families under its Small Miracle/Bear Hugs Program. While the foundation also offers grants for pediatric cancer research, the Bear Hugs Program is limited to Illinois residents no older than 19 or those treated at an Illinois medical facility with a cancer diagnosis. Funds are available for patients and their families to deal with various aspects of cancer treatment, including financial challenges.
The National Children's Cancer Society
This organization provides funds to pediatric cancer patients from lower-income families. Monies may be used to pay for medical bills, health insurance premiums, transportation, meals and lodging related to treatment. Cancer patients must be younger than 18 and U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents. Those families with liquid assets of more than $5,000 may be required to partially pay for assistance. Payments are made directly to eligible families.