EDISON — Nick and Alicia Bourlotos had to make an important decision when they learned their son, Nico, needed hearing aids.
“Financially, the timing couldn’t have been worse,” Alicia Bourlotos said, adding she and her husband have three children. “My first thought was it’s either Nico’s hearing aids or our mortgage. That was truly our option at the time. … Knowing from our middle son who needed hearing aids, we knew what a big hit it would be. Hearing aids are considered not a necessity under our insurance company and only cover $500. Hearing aids are $4,000.”
After conducting research online, Bourlotos came across the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF) medical grant, which helps needy families access medical care to improve their child’s health. Families do not have to have United Healthcare insurance to apply.
“We were so grateful to be a recipient,” Bourlotos said, adding the help has benefited Nico’s quality of life and has been a saving grace for their family. “It was a weight lifted off our shoulders.”
A few months ago, Nico, 12, began struggling in school.
“He knew something wasn’t right, but he didn’t know how to express and put it into words that it was because he couldn’t hear,” Bourlotos said. “Our pediatrician evaluated Nico with a hearing and vision assessment. He failed the hearing portion.”
In a matter of three weeks after getting his hearing aids, Nico has improved his math grade two letter grades.
Nico said he is happy with the hearing aids and being able to get his school grades up, play sports and play with friends.
In New Jersey, UHCCF has awarded 280 grants to families since 2013, valued at more than $800,000, helping to pay for health care treatments, services or equipment not covered, or not fully covered, by their commercial health insurance plan.
The foundation held a fundraiser to raise funds for medical grants on April 18 at Topgolf in Edison on Route 1.
The Bourlotos family, of Middlesex, attended the fundraiser and is sharing their story to encourage other New Jersey families to apply for medical grants.
Paul Marden, chief executive officer of UnitedHealthcare, and Jennifer Statham, regional communications director for UnitedHealthcare, said the goal for the company is to provide 20,000 medical grants nationwide by 2020.
“Right now we are over 15,000 grants valued at $40 million,” Statham said.
UHCCF is a separate non-profit charitable association that started in 1999 and is supported by United Healthcare.
Families can receive up to $5,000 annually per child — $10,000 lifetime maximum per child.
For more information, visit www.UHCCF.org.