Crowdfunding Strategies for Medical Expenses

A chemotherapy patient worried over medical bills talks on phone while sitting in front of an open laptop
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Did you know that one-third of GoFundMe campaigns are for medical costs? Nearly 28 million Americans do not have health insurance. More Americans are struggling to come up with money to pay for medical bills and crowdfunding campaigns for medical expenses has skyrocketed in recent years.

GoFundMe reports indicate it hosts over 250,00 campaigns to raise medical funds each year and these campaigns raise in excess of $650 million annually. GoFundMe has set up a guide page for those wishing to create a medical campaign on their site.

The Need

Why is there a need for crowdfunding strategies for medical expenses? Medical costs are rising. On average, a 40-year old will pay approximately $6,000 annually for health insurance with the average deductible in the $4,000 range. A Forbes report states that for a family making $59,000 per year, 17 percent of their income goes to health care expenses.

Types of Medical Expenses Covered

What are the specific types of medical costs that GoFundMe campaigns are covering? GoFundMe has not released a specific breakdown of the types of medical expenses its campaigns are funding. Uncompensated medical care is medical care provided for which no payment is received. Since 2000, hospitals have provided an excess of $576 billion in uncompensated medical care. A study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine gives a breakdown of the most common chronic diseases among Medicaid beneficiaries. It is important to note that the authors of the study acknowledged limitations in the studies accessed to compile this report. The study only includes patients on Medicaid from state-level data and it not a true representation of the total population with these chronic conditions.

It is safe to assume that many of the GoFundMe medical campaigns are created to cover these most common chronic medical conditions.

Cost Estimates** for Chronic Diseases Among Medicaid Beneficiaries Ages 18-64 Years

**Estimates from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine December 2017 report

Crowdfunding Fraud Concerns 

Some Americans are wary of donating to a GoFundMe campaign created to raise funds for medical expenses. People have become suspicious of fraudulent campaigns created where the funds are intended for personal use rather than for genuine medical expenses. In one example of medical GoFundMe fraud, a couple lied about their child having cancer and donors contributed several thousand dollars. GoFundMe refunded the donations.

Alternative Crowdfunding Sources for Medical Expenses

There are several alternative crowdfunding sources to GoFundMe where users can create fundraising campaigns for medical expenses including:

  • Transparent Hands: The site uses a global crowdfunding platform to fund surgeries for patients unable to afford the medical costs.
  • JustGiving: JustGiving operates peer-to-peer fundraising and can promote your campaign to a demographic in their community of over 18 million who are most likely to contribute.
  • Fundly: Fundly allows free creation of funding campaigns and the site can be used by individuals or non-profits. However, there is a 4.9 percent fee deduction for each donation received and a credit card processing fee of 3 percent.
  • Bonfire: Bonfire is not a “crowdfunding” site in the true sense of the word. However, the site allows you to start a fundraiser by selling shirts online. You can create a customized page to share your story and raise funds.

The takeaway from all of this is that more help is needed for Americans struggling to pay for medical expenses and to find affordable health insurance. Preventive care is needed to prevent the development of chronic diseases in Americans. Until Americans can find solutions to affordable healthcare, the trend of creating crowdfunding strategies for help in paying for medical expenses is likely to continue.