In recent years, online crowdfunding has become a major industry for those hoping to raise financial support for themselves or loved ones when medical expenses become too big a burden. As crowdfunding has gained in popularity, several issues have arisen regarding regulations and tax and financial implications.
If you already qualify for Medicaid or other government benefit or financial assistance programs, it is important to make sure any money raised through crowdfunding or donations does not push your income beyond the eligibility threshold for your current financial assistance. As some people have learned, this collection of money counts as income, which can cause a person to lose state and federal benefits on many things, like healthcare and food programs.
One other area to be aware of is related to privacy and disclosure of a cancer diagnosis. If you are not disclosing to family, friends, or an employer, then you want to think about how to raise funds while still protecting your privacy. For more information around privacy and disclosure decisions, watch this webinar: http://www.cancerandcareers.org/en/community/videos/BWC-2015/2015-webinar-online.
Even though there can be some potential pitfalls to using online crowdfunding if you are not careful, it can still provide a great deal of help when medical and other related costs become overwhelming.
Some tips for creating a successful funding page include: creating a strong appeal using details and a clear description, using pictures and videos, and building trust with your potential donors. One organization, HelpHOPELivem, is a nonprofit that verifies the validity of donation requests on behalf of a patient, while also streamlining the process for the patient or loved one who has started the campaign.
There are many different crowdfunding sites, but here are a few that are often used for medical bills and healthcare:
- Indiegogo Life
While selecting a crowdfunding source, be sure to check out the fees collected by each site. GoFundMe and GiveForward charge 5% of each donation and an extra 3% as a processing fee. Crowdrise offers a 3% pricing guarantee including credit card fees and HelpHOPELive charges a 4% fee with an additional 3% for credit card processing. YouCaring takes about a 3% processing fee. Depending on your needs many of these sites will provide the platform you need to reach a large audience of donors.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do is make sure you are well informed about any of the implications raising money through crowdfunding may have on your ability to qualify for other resources.
If you are a donor who wants to donate to a medical crowdfunding page, make sure that the page is reliable or belongs to someone you know and if possible see if you can provide support in a different way. Material items, such as food, furniture, clothing, and gift cards do not apply to household income. For loved ones who want to create a crowdfunding page for someone diagnosed with cancer, make sure that you have talked with them about their privacy preferences, and sought out individualized tax, financial, or legal advice to ensure that you won’t jeopardize their ability to qualify for other resources or programs, such as Medicaid.