Skip to content

Need Cash for Health Care? Ask!

How crowdfunding websites can help you pay for expenses

When Vicki Polin traveled 400 miles to get treatment for a heart defect, she had only $200 to her name. She ultimately needed heart surgery but had no idea how she'd afford her copay. Then a friend started a page for her on By the time she was discharged, her loved ones, and even strangers, had donated more than $1,000. In addition, she raised about $6,000 in the next couple of months to help cover more than $7,000 in related health expenses. "It literally helped save my life and was almost as important as the surgeon who performed [my] open-heart surgery," says the 52-year-old resident of Greater Chicago.

Health Law Answers - Get your customized report about how the law works for you and your family.

YouCaring, like other crowdfunding sites such as and, helps users pay bills, allowing givers to securely donate money (from $1 on up). Many sites connect user accounts to Twitter and Facebook, to solicit donations instantly. About 23 percent of GiveForward's users are 50-plus, along with 35 percent of YouCaring's beneficiaries.

Before you start a campaign, first research each site's fees and how quickly funds transfer. (Polin learned that some sites take up to 7 percent of donations as a fee, and others transfer funds only when your goal has been met.) Also talk with a professional tax adviser or attorney to confirm how donations can affect your filing status or public-assistance standing. After you start, be open with contributors, advises Fundly CEO Dave Boyce. And — regardless of how much you receive — always say thanks.

You May Also Like

Visit the AARP home page every day for great deals and for tips on keeping healthy and sharp