Apply online

To apply for a grant or to learn more about the program, visit the United Healthcare Children's Foundation website, www.uhccf.org.

There is no deadline to apply.

A little-known national program that helps pay for some children's medical expenses is soliciting applications from South Carolina families.

The United Healthcare Children's Foundation will award up to $5,000 in grant money to qualifying families who need assistance paying for their children's ongoing medical needs, including expenses such as surgery, counseling, physical therapy and medication.

Children must be 16 years old or younger to qualify for the program and must be covered by a commercial insurance policy. Children covered by Medicaid do not qualify for any assistance and families must meet certain income criteria.

Last year, the foundation awarded 1,700 grants worth $5.6 million. Since 2011, it has awarded nearly $90,000 in grants to South Carolina families.

Applications are accepted year-round.

"Our medical grants have already helped thousands of children in need, and we are looking to help thousands of more children in the future," said Matt Peterson, the foundation's president, in a prepared statement.

The grant money distributed by the United Healthcare Children's Foundation has been donated to the organization by individuals, corporations and the United Health Group, a health insurance company.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.