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Grants To Pay Medical Bills

Paying for medical care can put a huge financial strain on families. These grants to pay medical bills can save families thousands of dollars. 


If you have a medically complex child, or a child with a disability, you know the medical bills can be all too overwhelming. Some states have amazing medicaid programs for medically complex children, but if you're not able to access one of those, then the bills can often times feel crippling. Luckily, there are several grants out there that help families pay off medical bills. These some of these grants don't even need to be specific to a disability or long term illness. Some of these grants even help with the random broken arm from your otherwise healthy child. 


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United Healthcare Children's Foundation:

The United Healthcare Children's Foundation grant is a true lifesaver. This grant can be used for any of your children at anytime. The major caveats are that you have to make under a certain income limit (though that limit is rather high and increases with the more children you have), and you have to have private insurance through any insurance company, not just United Healthcare. Meaning, our family has Cigna insurance through my husband's work, and we can still access this grant through United Healthcare. 


This grant will provide $10,000 in grant money over a child's life up to age 18, but will only give you up to $5,000 per year. I've seen families use this money for hearing aides, diabetes supplies, and we've personally used it to pay physical therapy bills several years ago. It will also backdate and pay past medical bills as long as they've occurred within the last six months. For more information you can visit their site here. 


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The Healthwell Foundation:

This foundation aims to help both children and adults with more disease base illnesses. There are grants available for different types of Leukemia, Cystic Fibrosis, and other cancers and illnesses. Average grants are about $3,000 and there is an enrollment process with income restrictions. For this grant you need to have some form of health insurance, but unlike the United Healthcare Children's Foundation, this includes medicaid, medicare, etc... They also have income restrictions, but again, they're very high. You can find all the information about this program here. 

They even have grant money available to help pay bills as a result of covid-19!


Firsthand Foundation:

This foundation is a bit more restrictive than the other ones previously mentioned. This will provide help with medical related travel, vehicle modifications, and other medical procedures, therapies, mobility equipment, etc... The have income restrictions that are much lower than other grant programs, and you cannot have any insurance coverage for the situation that you're trying to get covered. They will award up to three grants from the time a child is 0-18, but is limited to one grant per year. You can see all their eligibility requirements here. 


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Giving Angles Foundation:

This foundation will award a one time $500 grant to families that make under $50,000 per year, and grants are awarded on a case by case basis. They serve individuals 21 and under, and will give funds for life-changing equipment, medical supplies, essential family bills, specialized camps, and therapeutic toys. You can see all of their information here. 


This list is in no way an inclusive list, but I felt like these four options were the best low hanging fruit that would provide the easiest form of help to the widest variety of individuals. An internet search could help you find so many grants that are specific to your area and your child's diagnosis, such as grants for hearing aids, communication devices, autism support, and more. If I have missed out on a grant program that you know of that you really love, please share information in the comments below!


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What Is Shriners Hospital

Shriner's Hospital is an amazing non-profit hospital that is a great financial option for families with medically complex children who have conditions that the hospital serves.


When our daughter was born in 2014 with significant medical issues, we assumed that we were forever going to be in a world of medical debt and that we could look forward to spending thousands of dollars on her medical care each year. No one told us that there were alternative medical systems outside of the big children's hospitals in the cities we lived. While our care was great wherever we went, at some point we had to start advocating for our wallets and figure out a better way.

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When we moved to the Salt Lake City area in 2017, someone had told me to look into Shriner's Hospital for children. It was about 35 minutes from our home, and I didn't think it would be worth the drive, and so I continued care with Primary Children's Hospital, until we had a $1,700 bill for a month of physical therapy and I decided there indeed had to be a better way. That better way was in fact Shriner's Hospital for Children. 


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What is Shriner's Hospital For Children?

Shriner's Hospital for Children is a non-profit medical system and charity that provides medical care to children with disabilities. The only caveat is that they only treat a certain number of conditions. Some Shriner's Hospitals only serve burn patients, some only serve orthopedic conditions, etc... However, if your child has one of the conditions their location serves, it can be an awesome opportunity for you to receive free medical care, which has been the case for us, and a huge blessing to our family. 

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Is Shriner's Hospital Free?

The reason we were excited about Shriner's was the prospect of getting free medical care for our daughter. Shriner's is a charity organization and with the donations they receive, it enters what I understand to be called an "endowment fund" that allows patients to access the funds for medical care. 

To qualify for free services at Shriner's Hospital we simply called and made an appointment. When we were there we spoke to a nurse and asked, "I heard there is a way to get our medical care for free is that true?" She told me on the way out to stop over at the finance office. I literally peeped my head in the door, asked the same question and the person in the office simply asked, "How much does your family make a year?" At the time we were making about $70k so I don't know what the max threshold is but, he simply made a note in his computer, never asked for proof or tax forms, and then told us we shouldn't see a bill for a year, and that when the year is up to come back into his office and he would bump it out another year for us. 

During that time our daughter got physical therapy, occupational therapy, orthopedic consults, appointments with physical medicine rehab, neurology, botox injections, x-rays, leg braces, and we never saw a bill for any of it. They also have amazing programs that can get you setup with mobility equipment, adaptive carseats, we got a free adaptive bike through them, and so much more. 

They will also still bill your insurance which is super nice. Essentially they bill your insurance for your visit, and then whatever your insurance doesn't pay, they cover the rest. This means you can get the care you need without paying out of pocket for it, while also still working down your medical deductible for other members of your family.

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Shriner's Hospital For Children Locations:

Shriner's Hospital for Children has locations all across the United States, and in Canada and Mexico as well. Remember that all locations serve different conditions, so check on their website to see what conditions they treat at your local hospital. The have locations in:
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Erie, PA
  • Galveston, TX
  • Greenville, SC
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Lexington, KY
  • Mexico City, MEX
  • Montreal, Quebec
  • Pasadena, CA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Portland, OR
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Shreveport, LA
  • Spokane, WA
  • Springfield, MA
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Tampa, FL
  • Tijuana, B.C.
  • Twin Cities, MN

Which Conditions Does Shriner's Hospital Treat?

Most Shriner's hospitals are only setup to treat 1-2 conditions per hospital, although a small hand-full are able to do quite a few more. The location in Salt Lake City only does Orthopedics, while the location in Sacramento does that along with five other conditions. It's completely different with each location. The overall conditions they do serve are:
  • Burn Care
  • Cleft Lip and Palate
  • Orthopedics
  • Pediatric Surgery
  • Spinal Cord Injury

I would say orthopedics is the number one condition that most of their hospitals serve, so if your child is in need of PT/OT/SLP, and they happen to have a condition such as cerebral palsy, club foot, limb differences, scoliosis, etc... They can get the treatment and care they need at Shriner's. 

For us our daughter has CP, so we got a bulk of our care through Shriner's but then used the local children's hospital for back up as needed if she needed something like GI, Cardiology, etc... Doing this saved us so much money over the years and we're so grateful for the care we received there. 

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Shriner's Outreach Clinics:

If you don't live near a Shriner's hospital, but want to receive care through one, they do outreach clinics where the doctors and staff from one local Shriner's will travel to treat patients in another city and state that otherwise would not have access to the benefits of Shriner's Hospital. For instance, the Salt Lake City team travels to Denver, Colorado; Phoenix, Arizona; and El Paso, Texas. So it's worth checking out their website to find the closets Shriner's to you, and then call and see what other areas they're serving through outpatient clinics. (This information can also be found by clicking the Shriner's closest to you on their site, and then navigating to the "patients and families" tab, and then clicking on the patients services option and see what they're offering in your area. 

Have you or your child received care at a Shriner's Hospital? I would love to hear about your experience in the comments below!

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