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In an Era of Expensive Medical Care, GoFundMe Rises—But It Isn’t The Only Option

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In September, Bloomberg published Health Insurance Costs Surpass $20,000 Per Year, Hitting a Record. In the article, Drew Altman, CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said, “[The cost of family health coverage] is as much as buying a basic economy car, but buying it every year.”

Buying a new car—every single year?

And with each passing year, it isn’t getting better.

Per capita, healthcare spending in the U.S. is almost twice the average of other developed nations. The sum cost of coverage and upfront premiums—which don’t include co-payments—are mounting. The financial toll of medical bills is causing over half a million families each year to resort to filing bankruptcy. There’s even the story of the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who sold his medal for $765,000 to pay his mounting medical bills.

It’s crazy. And unfortunately, it’s accepted as being normal.

Keep in mind, these are families simply covering the cost of care. What about the personal injury cases where someone, who may be insured or who may not have health insurance, gets hurt at no fault of their own? What then? Where can people turn?

To fill the gaps, hundreds of thousands of patients are turning to a new funding source: crowdfunding.

All hail, GoFundMe.

GoFundMe: The New Way to Afford Care

Crowdfunding is raising small amounts of money from a large number of donors online. GoFundMe is a popular crowdfunding website that was founded in 2010. Users can fundraise for any number of categories: education, nonprofit, emergency, or memorial. But, the medical category is—by far—the site’s most popular category. On the website, it reads: “We’re the leader in online medical fundraising.” Nearly 250,000 campaigns per year have been set up through the site to pay for medical costs.

GoFundMe has raised $650 million in medical contributions. The company’s CEO, Rob Solomon, told TIME that one-third of all GoFundMe donations go towards healthcare costs.

The Upsides and Downsides of GoFundMe Campaigns

Storytelling has always been an important part of human connection, relatability and compassion.

In crowdfunding, how one tells the story becomes crucial for success. GoFundMe has become a first and last resort for people who need help paying for their medical care, and while the site opens access to anyone who wants to raise money, medical crowdfunding typically benefits people with large and relatively wealthy social networks—and whoever has the most compelling story to tell.

A trend emerges, and it’s the sympathetic and engaging stories that climb closer and closer to their fundraising goal—sometimes even surpassing it, by a lot.

It is sad Americans need to turn to a site like GoFundMe to cover the “normal” costs of settling their medical bills.

Some have witnessed the GoFundMe success of others and decided to fabricate stories, scamming their friends and family, and the general public with an ongoing false narrative. Did you hear about the Mark D’Amico story? In 2017, he and then-girlfriend Katelyn McClure and homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt made up a story about Bobbitt giving $20 to help McClure when her car ran out of gas in Philadelphia. A GoFundMe page raised over $400,000, purportedly to help Bobbitt. Other stories go on for years, as was the case with Jenny Flynn Cataldo who faked terminal cancer. She was recently sentenced to a total of 25 months and 20 days in federal prison and was also ordered to pay $81,270.03 in restitution.

Medical Funding is Another Option

Nobody is expecting a phone call that delivers a cancer diagnosis. No one expecting to become a plaintiff in a personal injury case, either. In addition to medical care—and especially if you’re out of work while you recover—living expenses like rent, utility bills, and car payments pile up.But GoFundMe is not the only way to cover your cost of care. Medical funding and non-recourse funding are additional options for personal injury patients. Non-recourse means you only pay the money back if and when you win or settle your case.

Medical funding is ideal when you may have to pay a considerable amount out-of-pocket in the form of a high deductible or to cover the costs of procedures and medicines that your insurance company will not cover. See, when a patient’s medical bills are covered—and promptly—there’s less pressure to settle the case quickly. This means a lawyer can focus on getting a client the award he or she deserves, instead of settling for the award that will yield the fastest payout.

Plaintiffs apply for medical funding themselves. During the application process, the underwriting staff from Cherokee Funding reviews your case to see if you are eligible. The process is fast and simple. Most folks are approved the same day they apply.

Despite the rising cost of care, there are ways to cover the cost—and Cherokee Funding is here to help. Find out if you qualify by filling out our simple application.

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