Crowdfunding for medical bills?

For years, major crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, GiveForward, and FundRazr helped musicians, entrepreneurs, and filmmakers raise capital for their projects. They have achieved such high success rates that individuals have used this method to get assistance paying for other hard-to-fund living expenses – education, weddings, and now there’s crowdfunding for medical bills.

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Crowdfunding is helping people survive cancer – and the medical bills that come with beating it.

According to USA Today, crowdfunding sites raised about $2.8 billion in 2012. In particular, since 2010, people have used FundRazr to raise more than $10 million for medical costs. NPR reported that GoFundMe raised over $6 million for medical expenses in 2012.

Some people have simply asked for enough money to buy a new pair of glasses, while others have asked for enough to cover the cost of cancer treatment. So it’s common for people to request minimal sums, like $1000, to pay for prescriptions, medical equipment, or enough gas to get to their doctor appointments. Those who need long-term treatment might ask for $500,000, $1 million, or more.

Reasons for the Rise of Medical Crowdfunding
GiveForward states that crowdfunding for medical expenses is much easier now than ever before because social media is so popular. It is simple to post a link to a crowdfunding site and encourage friends and followers on social networks to donate. Online payment systems also work better, most people have experience using them, and they feel comfortable donating through the web.

Even in tough economic times, people can persuade their friends and relatives to donate a few dollars. In this way, crowdfunding has benefited people who otherwise could not gather large sums of money to pay for medical costs. Since major medical expenses often lead to bankruptcy, crowdfunding has helped numerous people keep their finances intact during health crises.

How Crowdfunding Helps Individuals
Crowdfunding for medical bills allows people to share their stories and connects a name and face to requests for money, which many charities cannot do.

“If you’re donating to a big nonprofit, you don’t know exactly how your money will be utilized, but on our site you might be thanked personally by the recipient,” said Brad Damphousse, CEO of GoFundMe.

For example, USA Today reported that a man named Matthew Foutz, who co-founded a crowdfunding website, found out in 2011 that his five-year-old daughter had a brain tumor. Since then, she has needed chemotherapy, radiation, and rehabilitation. To help cover the costs, he raised more than $11,500 through crowdfunding.

According to NPR, a friend of Farrah Soudani, who survived the Aurora theater shootings, used GoFundMe to set up a medical trust fund. With a goal of $200,000, the money paid for costs that insurance did not cover, as well as living expenses that Soudani could not pay during her recovery.

These are only a few examples of people who have successfully used crowdfunding to pay for medical costs. As more people see how these websites work, they may turn to them if they ever face high medical expenses.