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Underinsured People Living with Urea Cycle Disorders Now Have Financial Lifeline Thanks to New HealthWell Foundation Fund

08.05.2015HealthWell Foundation


Without Assistance, Costs of Copays Cause Some Patients to Make Tough Decisions

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — August 5, 2015 — The HealthWell Foundation®, an independent non-profit that provides a financial lifeline for inadequately insured Americans, today announced its launch of a new fund to assist people living with urea cycle disorders (UCD). Through the fund, the HealthWell Foundation will provide copayment assistance for UCD treatment to eligible patients who are insured and have annual household incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

A rare disease that occurs in both adults and children, urea cycle disorders are difficult to diagnose and can be chronic or acute.  Newborns with severe UCD become catastrophically ill within 36-48 hours of birth, while adults often go undiagnosed because they have a mild form of the disorder that results in subtle symptoms that go unrecognized or unheeded. UCD can occur anytime from days after birth to adulthood and can be inherited or acquired through such stressors as viruses, high protein intake, excessive diet or exercise, or medications.

“A urea cycle disorder is a rare, life-altering illness that currently has no cure and patients suffering from the disorder require medication multiple times every day,” said Krista Zodet, HealthWell Foundation President. “Thanks to the generosity of our donors, our UCD Fund will help more people living with UCD receive the daily treatments they need while relieving some of the financial stress they face in treating their disorder.”

Visit our fund page to determine eligibility and apply for financial assistance through the Urea Cycle Disorders Fund. To learn how you can support this or other HealthWell programs, visit

About Urea Cycle Disorders

According to the Office of Rare Diseases Research (ORDR) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a urea cycle disorder is a genetic disorder that results in a deficiency of one of the six enzymes in the urea cycle. These enzymes are responsible for removing ammonia from the blood stream. The urea cycle involves a series of biochemical steps in which nitrogen, a waste product of protein metabolism, is changed to a compound called urea and removed from the blood. Normally, the urea is removed from the body through the urine. In urea cycle disorders, nitrogen builds up in the blood in the form of ammonia, a highly toxic substance, resulting in hyperammonemia (elevated blood ammonia). Ammonia then reaches the brain through the blood, where it can cause irreversible brain damage, coma and/or death. The onset and severity of urea cycle disorders is highly variable and severity correlates with the amount of urea cycle enzyme function.

About the HealthWell Foundation

A nationally recognized, independent non-profit organization founded in 2003, the HealthWell Foundation has served as a safety net for more than 200,000 underinsured patients by providing access to life-changing medical treatments they otherwise would not be able to afford.

HealthWell provides financial assistance to adults and children facing medical hardship resulting from gaps in their insurance that cause out-of-pocket medical expenses to escalate rapidly. HealthWell assists with the treatment-related cost-sharing obligations of these patients. For more information, visit

Ginny Dunn