by Magdalena A. LaBranch-Gonzales
Litherland, Kennedy & Associates, APC, Attorneys at Law
Crowdfunding or fundraising websites, such as Kickstarter, YouCaring, and GoFundMe[i], are quickly becoming a popular source for donations where ordinary people may raise money from others for anything from new inventions to helping a neighbor or family member in need. Over time, crowdfunding has morphed into a platform to request finances for anything.
The most significant increase may be the rise of campaigns to crowdfund for medical hardships, medical bills and associated bills and living expenses. In fact, according to GoFundMe CEO Rob Soloman, one-third of all donations made through GoFundMe help individuals cover medical expenses. “When [GoFundMe] started in 2010, it wasn’t purposefully set up and built to be a substitute for medical insurance,” Soloman told CBS MoneyWatch. “We weren’t even set up to be a health care company and we still are not. But over time, people have used GoFundMe for the most important issues they are faced with.”[ii]
Unfortunately, asking for donations to cover your medical or living expenses may end up costing you your Medi-Cal eligibility in the end.
For example, you are currently receiving Medi-Cal to help pay for your skilled nursing expenses. To be eligible for Medi-Cal, your assets must remain under $2,000 of non-exempt assets at any given time. Let’s say your daughter, Susan, started an online fundraiser asking for donations for $20,000 to help pay for your medical expenses for an upcoming surgery and to help with your living expenses during this time. This good deed by Susan and all who give towards the fundraiser could cause you to lose your Medi-Cal benefits.
Even though Susan, not you, set up the fundraiser, you, as the recipient of the fundraiser, have direct access to all the funds and may request the funds directly from the website. This means if you set up a crowdfunding website or are the beneficiary of a crowdfunding website, you may lose your Medi-Cal eligibility based on the donations received from the fundraising website.
While Susan thought she was helping you out, in the end, she ended up costing you Medi-Cal eligibility.
For more information on how you or a loved one can qualify for Medi-Cal, and stay qualified, attend a free Medi-Cal Workshop offered monthly or schedule a free in-office consultation. Click here to view and register for upcoming Medi-Cal Planning Workshops.
[i] Purely for example only. Litherland, Kennedy & Associates does not endorse a particular crowdfunding website
[ii] Original Article first published on January 28, 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/crushed-by-medical-bills-many-americans-go-online-to-beg-for-help/?ftag=CNM-00-10aag7e