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Managing Health Care Costs with Crowdfunding

While some say that it takes a village to raise a child, others are now saying that it takes a crowd to pay for rising medical costs. As more caregivers are expected to pay for their loved one’s medical costs out of pocket, they are turning to the internet and crowdfunding websites for help. Certain crowdfunding websites are now dedicated portions of their sites specifically for health care expenses or specific diseases that need treatment.

Crowdfunding Websites

Crowdfunding, also known as crowdsourcing, uses a page on the internet to talk about the issue at hand and raise money for costs. It relies on friends, family, and strangers alike to donate money to the particular cause. Websites like YouCaring.com, GiveForward.com, GoFundMe.com, and Fundly.com are all examples of websites where people can go online and ask for help.

For example, GiveForward.com has raised over $149 million since its inception in 2008. Most of the money raised on the site has gone towards unexpected medical expenses. Donations have been asked for medical expenses, the cost of funerals, out-of-pocket expenses, and even nursing home care. The organization’s co-founder said that “No one should have to go through a difficult illness alone, and giving someone the opportunity to help is a big gift.”

How to Ask for Help

The operators of crowdfunding websites have noted that some types of requests garner more response than others. For example, unusual expenses or illnesses tend to get more of a response than generic medical care. Crowdfunding is usually more successful with extraordinary circumstances, and the infinite dragging on of expenses is not something that typically gathers support.

Experts say that building a large network is critical in raising money for senior health care costs through crowdsourcing. Try using emails and other social media websites like Facebook and Twitter to gather support. Having friends and family spread the word helps a lot, too. “Usually, 80 percent of the people who contribute are people you know rather than strangers. The key is getting people with big, active networks involved.”

In addition, people do not always donate the first time that you ask. It can take three or four times of asking, and persistence is vital. Having a three or four percent return on your “asks” is considered a good rate for these types of websites. Asking for smaller donations is also a better tactic than asking for large sums of money, and most crowdfunding websites will allow donations to start at as little as one dollar.

Why Crowdfunding Works

High out-of-pocket expenses can quickly deplete a caretaker’s financial resources. According to a survey done by the Commonwealth Fund, 87% of people ages 65 and older have at least one chronic illness. In addition, seniors in the United States have much more difficulty paying for their medical expenses than the elderly in other countries.

In a society that is so closely tied to the internet, crowdfunding websites can cast a wide virtual net for help. As Americans shift from communities where everyone helped take care of a sick elder, technology can pull from all areas of the country. As one expert put it, “Technology is breaking down solid walls with virtual windows, and it can virtually recreate the family.”

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