By Lisa Zamosky
Here are some sobering statistics about medical expenses: In the U.S., more than 62% of all personal bankruptcies filed are the result of medical expenses. What’s more, 78% of people who file bankruptcy have medical insurance. Most are middle class and have gone to college. Two-thirds are homeowners.
The moral of this story: Having health insurance in America doesn’t provide guaranteed protection against devastating financial effects. If you don’t have health insurance and you get sick, the situation can be even more dire.
A New Way of Paying for Care
As a way of dealing with incredibly high medical costs, people are finding creative ways of covering their expenses.
In the past few years, crowd-funding – a method of online fundraising commonly used by business start-ups and charity organizations– has made its way into health care.
A number of websites now make it possible for patients and their families to create a personalized web page from which to launch their fundraising campaign. Online, people can donate money to help them pay for the cost of care.
The general process works like this: You create a page on the site of your choice, set a fundraising goal, and then promote your page with email or social media outlets, such as Facebook or Twitter. You can upload pictures and videos and write a full description of the patient’s situation. On some sites, friends and family can also post words of support for patients.
You establish a fundraising goal and a date by which the funds are to be raised. The goal is displayed on your page so you and your visitors can keep track of how much money has been raised and how much further you have to go to hit your target.
It’s free to create a page, but some sites charge a processing fee – typically a percentage of the money raised (5% – 9% seems common).
People have used crowd-funding to pay for all types of medical care – cancer treatment, various types of surgery, life support, recovery from an accident, and dental care.
Sites for Funding
If you’re in need of money to pay for medical treatment, here are a few crowd-funding sites to explore:
Have you used a crowd-funding site to raise money for medical expenses? If so, how successful was your campaign? What was the experience like? Please share your experience, plus any sites not mentioned but worth checking out, in the comments section below.