Fundraising for medical expenses – an option for self-pay patients, but not the best

One of the things I’ve had to clarify for a few people who have asked me about my blog and my upcoming book is that I’m not opposed to people having some form of insurance or insurance-like coverage to cover major medical expenses. As I’ve explained, I am just not convinced that everyone needs what is today being sold as health insurance, especially when there are so many alternatives like fixed-benefit or critical illness policies, or health sharing ministries.

In my view, almost everyone should have some form of insurance or alternative coverage, the exception being the super-wealthy who can afford a $1 million bill for cancer treatment or some other catastrophic expense.

That said, the fact is that a lot of people won’t take this precaution, for a variety of reasons. For most people, that will turn out just fine for them – they’ll have few medical bills, and those that they have they can pay out of pocket, especially if they adopt even just a few of the options discussed here at The Self-Pay Patient. 

Then there will be those that aren’t quite so lucky, and do wind up with a major medical bill or the need to pay for treatment they just can’t afford. Here too some of the options I write about can be helpful, such as using a medical bill negotiator to make sure they’re getting a real and fair price, or becoming a medical tourist.

Even these options may fall short, however. But there are additional options, one of which I was recently reminded of by a friend’s posting on Facebook. Apparently a close family friend of hers has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, and she’s raising money to help pay for mostly non-medical but crucial expenses to, among other things, renovate the house so the friend can stay in her home. The bill for the prescription Riluzole apparently runs about $1,000 a month as well, after insurance. 

So she has turned to one of the several online sites that assist in raising money for people with, among other things, medical needs. In this particular case my friend is using The web site describes itself this way: is a simple, FREE online platform created for people who want to fundraise for causes they care about. From medical expenses, to memorials and mission trips or even pet care — if it’s important to you it qualifies you to set up a free online fundraiser.

We provide you with customizable personal fundraising webpages to help you spread your cause and raise support…

With YouCaring, you’ll eliminate a lot of the headaches of traditional fundraising, such as direct mail, solicitation calls, and donation boxes – all of which can be costly and time-consuming…

The site is open to individuals that need to raise funds in the seven categories our website focuses on: medical expenses, memorial/funeral expenses, tuition help, adoption fundraising, mission trips, animal/pet rescue or helping a neighbor in need…

While has a range of purposes people can fundraise for, other sites are specific to medical needs. For example, is focused exclusively on raising funds for healthcare needs. It includes several success stories on their site, such as that of Johan Groneman, who raised more than $87,000 to cover treatment of stage-4 renal cancer.

Another campaign that was highlighted on was for a couple who had racked up big medical bills for gall bladder surgery and an appendix removal:

Zulya Saidova (currently Harring) and Eric Harring are a young couple that [married] in May of 2009… Both in their twenties, they have not yet reached a point in their lives where they could have a job with benefits…

A little while back, Zulya had gall bladder surgery. She was flown by a helicopter to Long Beach Memorial Hospital and as a result, her bill alone far exceeds $50,000.

Less than a week ago, Eric had his appendix removed and will be out of work for three weeks. Although he is feeling a bit better and is starting to walk, the concern about the medical bill they’ll receive in the mail is overwhelming.

This couple raised about $8,000 towards their $10,000 goal to help cover medical expenses (and I’m hoping they had a medical bill negotiator knock down that $50,000 bill, which seems a bit much for a gall bladder surgery – Healthcare Blue Book shows the average price nationally of gall bladder removal is around $17,000).

There are several other sites available for fundraising for medical purposes, including SupportlyGoFundMe, and CauseWish.

Being able to raise money from family, friends, and strangers through one of these or other fundraising platforms is not most people’s first choice for paying for needed medical care. But it is an option, and if need be it can help make the difference between getting timely, appropriate care while avoiding crushing financial debt, or not getting needed care or having a stack of medical bills with no realistic chance to pay them off.

All told though, I think people are still better off with some sort of insurance or insurance-like coverage!

Oh, and if you’re interested in helping to support my friend’s fundraising effort, the page for her is here: Peace of Mind for Patsy. She sounds like a wonderful lady, and I’m sure she and her family could use all the help they can get!

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