With the number of self-pay patients growing dramatically in recent years, patient responsibilities are an increasingly important revenue source. So hospitals must take note of a self-pay trend that is helping patients pay their medical bills--crowdfunding websites, reported USA Today.
One such site, GoFundMe, is raising about $30 million a year for a variety of personal causes, with medical bill payment its number one cause, comprising about 17 percent of all funds being raised, according to the article.
Crowdfunding sites can even be used to cover co-payments for insured patients, noted AARP Magazine. For example, Vicki Polin turned to fundraising site YouCaring to cover the expenses connected to her heart surgery.
However, the medical bill fundraising trend is still modest. And hospitals themselves are not actively encouraging such fundraising directly for individual patients.
Instead, healthcare institutions like California's UC Davis Medical Center are using crowdfunding campaigns to purchase medical equipment for its pediatric patients, according to The Sacramento Bee. Several other U.S. children's hospitals are involved in such efforts.
"The personal element is a lot more compelling than sending a check to a charity," Catherine Chapman, a philanthropic consultant in Louisville, Ky., told USA Today. "Doing that is anonymous and you can't relate, but if it's your friend who has cancer, you want to help."
With that in mind, MedStartr launched last year to help fund healthcare innovations, according to MedCity News. Some of MedStartr's healthcare projects include a clinical trial of a diabetes management app and a physician-patient communication platform that allows docs to address the patient engagement requirements of meaningful use.