Crowdfunding sites want to help pay your medical bills

These sites are increasingly being used for health care. From $1,000 for gas to get to the neonatal ICU, to $200,000 for a medical trust fund for a survivor of the Aurora theater shootings.

Thousands have used crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter to raise money for their films, music, startups, or research undertakings. And increasingly, people felled by illness or injury are using these sites to raise money for their health care. NPR reports.

GoFundMe users have raised more than $6 million for medical causes in 2012 alone. Medical, Illness & Healing is the site's most popular category, attracting 17 percent of the site's total donations.

Some campaigns range from modest requests for $1,000 to cover gas cards for parents to visit their baby son in the neonatal ICU, to ambitious goals to raise $200,000 for a medical trust fund for a survivor of the Aurora theater shootings.

Most users raise funds through people they know and their friends since the site makes it easy for them to broadcast their cause on Facebook and Twitter. Media coverage also makes a big difference – with strangers helping each other and seeing the direct impact of their money.

The site takes a 5 percent cut from all money raised. An internal team vets every page, looking for hucksters and shutting them down.

Two other sites -- GiveForward and YouCaring – have also attract millions in donations.

And then there’s also the Rare Genomics Institute, Bloomberg Businessweek reports, a nonprofit that leverages falling DNA sequencing costs and rising online giving to support medical research. On the institute’s website, children with mysterious illnesses can solicit the $7,500 needed to sequence their genes and their parents’ in search of new therapies.

[Via NPR]

Image: NICU by Dave Q via Flickr

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