Last month, we posted a blog about how many Americans are spending more than $50,000 or even $100,000 a year on medications—more  people than ever before. The information included insured Americans and found that insurance covered an average of 97% of prescription costs for those spending at least $50,000. At NeedyMeds, there are many assistance programs for those who are in need.  However, even with new laws and regulations there are those stuck in between.

There are patients in America that make too much money to qualify for assistance but still not enough to pay all their medical bills.  Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) and non-profit organizations often have limits to how much income a person or family makes in a year to be eligible for their services.  Good jobs and good insurance can still leave patients paying huge amounts for prescribed medications.

Some medications for serious or chronic diseases such as lupus can cost $2500 per dose. Even with insurance that pays 80% of the drug price there is a $450 out-of-pocket payment, which does not include monthly insurance premiums or other medical costs.  One hepatitis

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In previous blog posts, we have detailed a relatively new method for fundraising for medical expenses called crowdfunding along with our own crowdfunding platform, HEALfundr. Recently, there has been some news regarding the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a crowdfunding project that made us want to touch upon some key differences between HEALfundr and other crowdfunding platforms.

This month, the FTC formally charged the creator of a Kickstarter campaign with deception by spending crowd-raised funds on himself and unrelated projects instead of the board game represented in his campaign. Using the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform, intended for creative or entrepreneurial projects, the creator raised over $122,000 from 1,246 backers who hoped to receive the board game in return for their pledges. The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection found that the creator spent most of the money on unrelated personal expenses and licenses for a different project. The order imposes a $111,793.71 refund to those who pledged, but the judgment is suspended due to the creator’s inability to pay.

This kind of development can raise a lot of

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2014 was an exciting year for us. We grew in many ways: more staff, new programs, new information, and increasing savings with our drug discount card. We are looking forward to even more in 2015.

Here are just a few of the changes we expect to see:

  • $4 generic drug information — Very soon we will be adding information on all the “$4 generic” programs in the country. The name – “$4 generic” – is a little misleading. It will include all the pharmacy programs that offer very inexpensive or even free medicines.
  • Generic Assistance Program — We are looking to expand the program to cover more people. To do this we need your help. You can make a donation on our HEALfundr campaign or by signing the “Access Our Medicine” declaration. Each signer we get results in another 50¢ for GAP.
  • Access Our Medication — We are proud to be working with the Mindset Foundation to publicize the problem of medication affordability. They have many events planned for 2015 and NeedyMeds will be a part of them.
  • Imaging Studies Database — You will be hearing more and more about medical consumerism in 2015. NeedyMeds will be helping people make sound financial healthcare decisions. Our first step will be our Imaging Studies database. It will contain the cash prices for 20 common outpatient x-ray, CT, MRI and ultrasound procedures at centers across the country. This database will appear soon and we will be adding more centers every day.
  • Hepatitis C testing facilities — By partnering with the Hep C Alliance of Missouri, we will be listing low- or no cost sources of hepatitis C testing throughout the country.
  • HEALfundr — We expect to see more use of our medical crowdfunding website. We are working on a number of campaigns to add.
  • Volunteer Ambassador Program — We hope to expand our cadre of volunteers who help spread the word about NeedyMeds and all we offer.
  • Heightened visibility — Our goal is to double the number of daily visitors from 8,000-10,000 each workday.
  • A new office — We have outgrown our current office and plan on moving to an office three times the size by March.
  • Call center expansion — We will be adding more staff to our call center so we can better handle all the helpline calls we receive.
  • Drug Discount Card — The growth of our card and the savings it provides continues to grow. We expect this to continue in 2015.

I could go on as we have a lot more planned—but I won’t. To accomplish our goals we need your help and support.  The most important thing you can do is tell your friends, family, colleagues, doctors; share NeedyMeds with just about anyone.

But we need more than that—we need your financial support. Sign the “Access Our Medicine” declaration. Each signature gets us a small donation. If you can afford it, make a donation to NeedyMeds or a HEALfundr campaign. Use our drug discount card to save on your prescriptions and help support us.

2014 was a good year for us, but 2015 will be even better.

Rich Sagall, MD, a retired family physician, is the president and founder of NeedyMeds, a national non-profit that has information on programs that help people in medical need. He is also the editor and publisher of Pediatrics

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We’re wrapping up 2014 here at NeedyMeds, and it’s been a big year for us. We have kept true to our original mission to provide information on programs that help people who can’t afford medications and healthcare costs, and have expanded in the interest of offering more direct assistance to those in need.

The year started with a redesign of our website. Later that January, we launched a unique crowdfunding platform called HEALfundr. Using HEALfundr, people can raise funds for verified medical expenses that will be paid directly with the crowd-raised funds. HEALfundr is the only crowdfunding platform to verify campaigns and pay bills directly, giving confidence to donors that they will not be victimized by fraud and relieving the stress of handling incoming and outgoing funds for those in need.

This past May we released a new web-based tutorial for those looking to learn how to find help for patients facing problems affording their medicine or other healthcare costs called Patient

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Even with recent legislation making health care more accessible, Americans still need help paying for medical expenses. Despite having insurance coverage, 10 million Americans faced bills they were unable to pay in 2013.

When options run low and eligibility requirements for assistance can be restrictive, many are turning to online crowdfunding.

Remaining popular for creative works, crowdfunding is a tool to collect donations using the Internet towards a larger single goal. In 2012, up to 30% of all crowdfunding campaigns were for social or medically related causes. The use of social media has connected those in need with those in their own personal networks and beyond that are able to help.

Earlier this year, NeedyMeds launched HEALfundr to take what we saw as the next logical step in medical crowdfunding. Our unique vision is one of secure, verified campaigns that take the hassle and stress of coordinating between incoming donations and outgoing bills as well granting donors the confidence their contribution is going to an essential need.

The only eligibility requirements of HEALfundr are that you have legitimate medical expenses

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