Medical groups help patients crowdfund their bills

One website has raised $20 million for medical bills this year

A growing number of U.S. residents are turning to crowdfunding websites to cover the cost of medical bills, and several medical institutions and associations are getting involved to help them out, Kaiser Health News/Washington Post reports.

How crowdfunding sites work

Medical fundraising websites operate like online business fundraising sites, such as Kickstarter. Individuals can participate in fundraising on the sites by:
  • Setting up a Web page;
  • Including personal stories and a fundraising goal; and
  • Publicizing the page through social media sites.

Donations generally are accepted through PayPal or credit cards.

Medical fundraising websites are growing in number and profitability, according to KHN/Post. So far this year, GiveForward has raised more than $20 million for more than 15,000 campaigns, compared with raising $225,000 for 359 campaigns in all of 2008. Meanwhile, several new websites have launched over the last several years, including GoFundMe.com, YouCaring.com, FundRazr.com, and Indiegogo.com.

Medical groups get involved

Medical groups and organizations are getting involved in online fundraising for medical bills as well, KHN/Post reports.

For instance, the Rare Genomics Institute has been fundraising for two years to help families cover the costs of gene sequencing for patients with rare genetic diseases—a procedure that can cost about $10,000 and is not generally covered by insurers.

Health experts raise concerns

Experts say there are potential issues with the increased use of online fundraising sites, including:
  • Privacy and fraud concerns;
  • The loss of eligibility for Medicaid or other assistance programs; and

Donations not being tax deductible because they are staged by people, rather than not-for-profit organizations (Mayer, KHN/Post, 7/1).


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Finance

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