Needy Patients turn to Online Fund-raising for Help


Fund-raising websites are becoming a boon for needy American patients, who are increasingly using them to raise much-needed cash for medical treatment. Take the example of the couple Sean and Jessica Haley who live in Florida. Their insurance left out fertility treatment and they desperately wanted a baby. So, they advertised their plight and asked for help on the website IndieGoGo. Astonishingly, a flood of donations poured in and the Haleys’ need also got publicized on Facebook and Twitter. The couple managed to raise a total of $8,050 from their online fund-raising experiment.

Individual Patients go Online
Traditionally, Internet fund-raising has been used by nonprofit and charity groups. But of late, thanks to inadequate and costly healthcare, individual patients have started using websites to garner funds for treatment. A wide variety of patients use online websites like IndieGoGo to collect funds for treatments ranging from organ transplants, cancer therapies and sometimes even for relatively small medical expenses.

IndieGoGo’s Terms
Though posting is free on IndieGoGo, the website takes a commission of four percent of the total money raised. The site has also imposed a nine percent fee on campaigns that fall short of their fund-raising target. This is to ensure that users keep their goals reasonable. Since its founding in 2008, IndieGoGo has successfully hosted hundreds of fund-raising campaigns for medical treatment.

Blame the System
Slava Rubin is one of the co-founders of IndieGoGo. He was motivated by the death of his father due to multiple myeloma. Rubin also uses his site to raise funds for charity and cancer campaigns. Rubin is not surprised that needy individuals have started using his site to get help. He blames the lopsided and expensive US healthcare system for their plight.

With a Little Help from Friends
IndieGoGo is very careful about preventing fraud. It asks campaign sponsors for their bank account and utilitizes fraud algorithms to minimize suspicious activity. Yet ultimately, the people at large get to decide if a cause is genuine. Typically, most campaigns get 80% of their collection from friends and family networks. Total strangers contribute the remaining 20%. Random strangers will very rarely fund a campaign. So, it is the patient’s family, friends and their connections who contribute most of the donations.

Online Help
Last year, Jeffrey Self a struggling actor in Los Angeles, suffered from dental problems. He needed about $3,040 for dental surgery. But, Self did not have medical insurance. So, he made a funny video about his condition and posted it online. To his utter surprise, his appeal managed to raise $3,650. Self opines that though the Internet may be saturated with bad stuff, you can still find a silver lining such as IndieGoGo.

The Small Downside
There is however one downside to online fund-raising. Patients have to reveal and discuss their private health struggles with total strangers. They may also get some criticism as in the case of the Haleys who were advised by a few people to pursue adoption. Still, the Haleys are happy as Jessica is pregnant now. The Haleys and their well-wishers are all agog and waiting for the arrival of the first crowd-funded baby.

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