Crowdfunding helps more patients pay bills

Crowdfunding continues to take hold as a potential solution for cash-strapped Americans trying to pay for their medical care, the Los Angeles Times has reported. Crowdfunding sites such as Indiegogo have created campaigns specially tailored to people who have personal needs such as paying medical bills, according to the newspaper.

Among the recent successes in crowdfunding for healthcare services: One campaign raised $800,000 for experimental treatments for a 24-year-old leukemia patient. A 26-year-old ALS patient was able to raise nearly $267,000 for his care. And a family with a 2-year-old with advanced brain cancer was able to raise $34,000 to meet their household expenses.

"A lot of people who thought they had adequate insurance coverage find themselves in situations where insurance is not enough," Leonard Lee, communications chief for YouCaring, another crowdfunding site, told the Los Angeles Times.

The notion of crowdfunding to pay medical bills has been around for a few years. In 2013, it was the leading personal crowdfunding cause for the site GoFundMe. Crowdfunding has also begun to penetrate into the realm of medical research, has reported.

However, the use of crowdfunding for healthcare expenses can sometimes take a dark turn. Earlier this year, Luis Lang, an outspoken critic of the Affordable Care Act, crowdfunded to have eye surgery. Many contributors to his campaign posted critical comments as to his judgment.

The keys to a successful medical crowdfunding campaign, according to the Los Angeles Times, include a clear and concise description of the medical issue and how it has affected the patient, as well as photographs and videos to help lend a personal touch.

Some crowdfunding sites collect fees; others do not. According to the Los Angeles Times, GoFundMe and GiveForward keep 5 percent of each donation and another 3 percent for a payment processing fee. Indiegogo Life and YouCaring only charge a credit card processing fee between 3 percent and 4 percent.

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