How Medical Fundraising Can Help You Pay For Medical Expenses
When a loved one falls ill, it is a stressful and emotional experience for the whole family. Ill health can often come with unforeseeable financial hardship, directly impacting an individual’s ability to access medical treatment and ultimately putting their health and life at risk.
150 million each year suffer severe financial hardship because they have to pay out of their own pockets at the time they receive care, and 100 million are pushed into poverty as a result.
According to the World Health Organization in the World Health Report 2010, millions of individuals worldwide forgo medical treatment because they are unable to pay for the out of pocket costs associated with receiving medical treatment.
Severe financial hardship can occur as a result of illness in many ways. For example, this can be due to the high out of pocket costs and gap fees, being uninsured, seeking surgery that is not covered in health insurance, or the loss of income when taking on a family-carer role for a loved one with a disability.
One solution that individuals have effectively used to gain access to medical treatment is called medical fundraising.
What is medical fundraising?
The term medical fundraising is the act of raising funds to alleviate the financial burden of illness, disability or disease, where the sole purpose of the funds raised are used to assist a beneficiary in receiving much needed medical care. For example, providing financial assistance to an individual to help pay for medical expenses related to their cancer treatment.
Medical fundraising is a personal fundraising campaign where an individual reaches out to family, friends and their personal networks and community for financial assistance. Personal medical fundraising is a form of fundraising that allows families to determine the best course of action for the health and well-being of the beneficiary. Whether this means going overseas for the best treatment available, or seeking health professionals whom specialize in childhood cancer treatments, the family is able to take control of the situation rather than feeling helpless.
Under stressful and emotional circumstances such as ill health, supporters can find it difficult to know what is the most useful and helpful way to give support. Medical fundraising has been effective in providing an outlet for family and friends to actively support a loved one undergoing an illness.
Who can start a medical fundraising campaign?
Anyone can create a medical fundraising campaign for themselves or someone they know. In most cases, a medical fundraising campaign is created by the beneficiary’s family, guardian or loved one. This can be a parent, partner, friend or family member.
Before starting a medical fundraising campaign, it is important to get full consent from the beneficiary.
7 reasons why you should start fundraising for medical expenses
1) Immediate medical assistance for a loved one
Undergoing a medical emergency, the main priority is to find a cure, solution or treatment. Families cannot risk delaying treatment or medical care as it can put a loved one’s life a greater risk.
The first immediate reaction after diagnosis is to seek treatment as soon as possible. Getting access to medical care straight away can be a crucial part in surviving and recovering from an illness. This can be difficult for families who are seeking medical treatment through a public health system.
Getting access to free or low cost medical care can often means enlisting your loved one on a waiting list for hospital treatment. Therefore, waiting lists can be a huge factor in accessing medical care immediately. As a result, receiving treatment can take months to several years, during which a loved one’s health can get much worse.
Starting a medical fundraiser can allow families to seek private health care and receive life-saving treatment immediately. Due to the urgent nature, a medical fundraising campaign is one of the most fastest options to seek immediate financial assistance from family and friends, particularly for families who are unable to cover the costs themselves.
2) Greater choice of medical care
Not only is gaining access to medical care important, the quality of treatment is also a vital part in making the right decision for your loved one. Being able to choose the best surgeon or receive treatment at the best facility can dramatically increase the chances of survival, recovery and overall well-being of your loved one.
However, families can find restrictions on what is available in the public health system. To be able to provide the best possible treatment and care for your loved one can come at a price.
When conducting a personal medical fundraising campaign, you will be able to determine the best use of the funds raised in order to give the best treatment possible for your loved one.
3) Cover unforeseen medical expenses
Medical emergencies can come suddenly without warning. Complications can also arise during diagnosis and treatment, making it very difficult to determine beforehand, how much your medical expenses will be.
Although families are able to seek health insurance, these can be limited to certain treatments as well as have high gap fees which require to be covered by the family.
Setting up a medical fundraiser means that you will be able to receive assistance on paying the cost of the medical expenses as they come. You will be able to update family and friends on the progress of treatment and ensure that the cost will be covered.
4) Minimizing the impact of illness on the family
Ill health can create a range of negative impacts on the family. The two main ways ill health can impact a family are emotional strain and financial burden.
The emotional distress of illness can often mean family structures and routines are broken, leading to fragmentation in the household. The feeling of being helpless throughout the course of treatment can be frustrating and emotionally consuming. Lack of stability and support due to loss of income and countless hours in and out of hospital care, can lead to sleepless nights and ultimately a family breakdown.
Studies such as ‘The effect of chronic illness on the psychological health of family members, 2003‘ have shown the damage chronic illness can have on family members and their psychological health. These include depression, anxiety, emotional distress and can lead to other mental health issues.
Illness can also put a strain on the family’s financial stability. According to National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2009) 65.7 million people in the US provide care for an ill, frail or disabled family member or friend, where many of these full time carers are unable to balance employment on top of their caring responsibilities.
For example, household income earners who become ill, this can leave the entire family struggling to pay basic household bills and expenses. Medical expenses that are required immediately can lead to further financial stress.
In a study entitled ‘The impact of serious illness on patients’ families.’, 2661 patients with various illnesses including cancer were interviewed to assess the adverse effects on illness on the families.
In 20% of cases, a family member had to quit work or make another major life change to provide care for the patient. Loss of most or all of the family savings was reported by 31% of families, whereas 29% reported loss of the major source of income.
By creating a medical fundraiser, families are able to relieve themselves from the financial hardship that can often lead to family breakdowns and depression. Taking charge of the situation by seeking support from friends and family, can empower families during this tough time. It allows families to focus on taking care of their loved one, rather than worrying about the financial burden that has come from illness.
5) Ability to access overseas treatment
In the United States, access to treatment, surgeries and medicines can be limited to what has been clinically approved and deemed as safe. New drugs and treatments for example, can often be excluded from general public access.
Families do have the option to access new treatments and drugs overseas, receive treatment from specialized doctors or surgeons and receive hospital care that are far more superior than what is available in the US. However, this can often come at a price.
Most common health insurance will not cover treatments outside of the country. Families may also find that they will require to pay for out of their own pocket, the cost of transport and accommodation. This is on top of the cost of the treatment.
Medical fundraising gives the opportunity for families to fundraise for the cost for overseas treatment.
6) Access to new drugs and treatments
Trying new treatments and drugs can often be the last option for many patients at critical stages of their illness. New research of drugs, medicines and treatments can be life-changing for many patients.
However, getting access to new medicines is not easy. New treatments are often not widely available in the US, which can be frustrating for many patients and their families.
In order for a doctor or health professional to recommend and prescribe new treatments and drugs that may be available in the international market, a lengthy process by heallth bodies needs to take place. As a result, new treatments and drugs are often delayed in the US market for months or even for several years, making patients who desperately require these treatments in helpless position.
For patients who’ve tried almost every treatment or drug available on the market with no success, waiting for new treatments and drugs to be approved can be damaging to their health, if not a death sentence.
The costs of getting access to new treatments can also be high. With additional costs such as transport costs, accommodation costs and limited medical health insurance for international treatment, families
Fundraising for medical expenses online can allow individuals to receive new treatments in another country. If you are unable to access particular medical treatment that are available elsewhere, you can setup a medical fundraiser to help cover the costs of seeking medical treatment overseas.
7) Positive Social Support Increases Health And Wellbeing
The term social support refers to family and friends who become part of the central support network during times of need or during a crisis. During a medical emergency, having positive social support is particularly important for not only the family but plays a crucial role in the health and well-being of your loved one.
When creating a medical fundraiser, you openly provide a platform where friends and family can provide instrumental support through donations as well as emotional support through messages and kind words.
According to See Salovey, 2000, there is a strong link between a person’s social support and their wellbeing. Those who have close personal relationships are able to cope better against adverse life events including illness.
Researchers at Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pooled data from 148 studies on health outcomes and social relationships involving more than 300,000 men and women — and found that those with poor social connections had on average 50% higher odds of death in the study’s follow-up period (an average of 7.5 years) than people with more robust social ties.
Countless of other studies have also shown that positive social support from friends, family and social networks can play a critical role in the recovery and survival of patients.
Creating a fundraiser for medical expenses can be beneficial not only for the financial support, but for the emotional support too. Knowing that your supporters are there for you can help relieve some of the emotional distress experienced.
How Can I Start My Medical Fundraiser?
The most common way of starting a medical fundraiser is online. Families can quickly setup a fundraiser with an online service without requiring any knowledge or experience in web design. This method is safe and very easy to do.
One of the major benefits of online medical fundraising is that there are no geographical or time restrictions, meaning families are able to receive donations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It also means families will be able to have the option of receiving funds securely anywhere in the world. For instance, families who have extended networks and relatives overseas, online medical fundraisers can help facilitate fast transactions.
Is Online Medical Fundraising free?
Most services or medical fundraising sites that offer families the ability to start a campaign, will charge an admin fee as well as a bank transaction fee. However, medical fundraising online is completely free at PeoplePledge. PeoplePledge is the first and only website that allows families to run a medical fundraiser for free.
1) The effect of chronic illness on the psychological health of family members: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14578544
2) Health Financing: http://www.who.int/gho/health_financing/en/
3) Caregiver Statistics: https://caregiver.org/selected-caregiver-statistics
4) The impact of serious illness on patients’ families. SUPPORT Investigators. Study to Understand Prognoses and Preferences for Outcomes and Risks of Treatment: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7990218
5) Recipe for Longevity: No Smoking, Lots of Friends: http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2006938,00.html
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