Patients Turning to Crowd-Funding Websites for Medical Care Costs

Crowd-funding websites for patients' medical expenses are growing in popularity, and several medical institutions and associations are now joining the industry, Kaiser Health News/Washington Post reports.

How the 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.

Details of Growth

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 other fundraising websites have launched over the last several years, including GoFundMe.com, YouCaring.com, FundRazr.com and Indiegogo.com.

In addition, medical groups and organizations are beginning to enter the market, according to KHN/Post. For instance, 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 generally not covered by insurers that can cost about $10,000.

Potential Concerns

According to KHN/Post, there are some 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, Kaiser Health News/Washington Post, 7/1).

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