A novel approach to financing medical bills: Crowdfunding

Brooke Murphy - Print  | 

Unaffordable medical bills have become a systematic problem in the healthcare industry. As hospitals and entrepreneurs bring increasingly creative patient financing options to the operating room table, one startup has introduced crowdfunding into the medical debt arena, according to a ComputerWorld report.

Someone With Group offers a HIPAA-compliant crowdfunding service for patient financing and debt reduction. Patients must be sponsored by a healthcare system to participate in a campaign. Funds raised by patients are loaded onto a reloadable debit card that can only be used to pay off medical expenses.

PinnacleHealth System in Harrisburg, Pa., partnered with Someone With Group in April 2015 as a way to offer a patient-centered financing option that simultaneously improves patient outlook and hospital finances, according to the report.

Pinnacle routinely writes off nearly $50 million a year in unpaid patient bills, Pinnacle CFO Bill Pugh told ComputerWorld.

"Obviously, with the increasing cost of healthcare, we have a significant amount of money we don't recover [from] folks who are underinsured or have a high deductible plan and can't afford out-of-pocket expenses," Mr. Pugh told ComputerWorld. "It's also another arrow in our quiver in helping patients…emotionally deal with debt."

PinnacleHealth System oversees three hospitals and almost two dozen clinics and physician practices.

Patients who have used the crowdfunding service have raised $2,315 on average, reports ComputerWorld.

"Our solution not only provides hospitals with a way to reduce unpaid bills, but is also a tremendous goodwill gesture towards patients," said Someone With Group founder Paula Jagemann-Bane in an official statement on the company website.

PinnacleHealth will complete their one year pilot with Someone With Group this year. The crowdfunding company hopes to sign service agreements with 100 hospitals by 2020, reports ComputerWorld. 


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