Crowdfunding healthcare: Is it viable in the UAE?
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Crowdfunding healthcare: Is it viable in the UAE?

Paying for healthcare can be daunting if you don't have health insurance, so some people have resorted to crowdfunding healthcare funds from the public via online platforms. How viable is this in the UAE? Find out more here.

Recently, a peculiar trend has risen from various corners of the world. A trend that has been helpful to some, but others are trying to emulate the success of the few and getting burned in the process. Namely, this trend is crowdfunding one’s healthcare. Here, UAE Medical Insurance examines the topic. Find out more about success stories, as well as pitfalls.

A crowdfunded world

For those unfamiliar with the term, crowdfunding is when an individual or organization turns to the public at large for the financing of a particular project, invention or cause. Typically, hundreds, thousands or even millions of small donors will contribute to a crowdfund in order to help it reach its funding goal. The practice has been gaining steam in recent years, doubling the previous year’s total funding or more each year. Since seeing US$880 million in funds in 2010, 2014 saw crowdfunding bring in US$16 billion, which grew to US$34 billion in 2015. The Middle East and North Africa is estimated by the World Bank to be worth about US5.6 billion in crowdfunding value by the year 2025.

As far as what successful campaigns look like, the average crowdfunding campaign is for around US$7,000 and lasts for around 9 weeks. On the marketing side, the number of links back to a crowdfunding page and the number of people contacted via social media have a huge impact on the success of the average campaign. For example, 100 Facebook friends can lead to a 20% chance of a successful campaign, while 1,000 raises this number to 40%, and so on.

The reasons people give their money to crowdfunding initiatives can be numerous. Sometimes crowdfunded projects will deliver a finished product after funding is achieved and the product is released. Sometimes other perks are provided to entice donors to spend a certain amount of money (i.e. AED 40 will get you a t-shirt, but AED 4,000 will get you a dinner with project leads). Still other people will be drawn to heartfelt stories of sorrow and hope, and give money for purely altruistic reasons. This is where most of the people donating to crowdfunding efforts related to an individual’s healthcare fall.

Why would you crowdfund your healthcare?

Well, the #1 reason to take crowdfunding for healthcare seriously is that it has worked in the past. Numerous stories can be found where a local or online community was able to band together and raise funds to help an individual through a particularly trying health scare. The practice is even gaining prominence in the UAE since it has been deemed to be in accordance with sharia law.  However, do keep in mind that crowdfunding something so important is not always all that it is cracked up to be. (More on this towards the bottom of this article.)

The website actually has a tool for estimating the likelihood of your crowdfunding campaign being successful. This tool allows us to create a scenario and see if experts believe crowdfunding it will be achievable. In our scenario, we have a terrible series of surgeries to undergo that will require US$30,000 in payment, and raising this amount will be the difference between life and death. We only have about 5 days to plan the campaign before it must go live, and we’ll be working with 2 family members on coordinating the campaign, which will include utilizing our social networks and creating an ongoing series of videos to update donors on progress. Fundraising outside of the crowdfunding campaign will also be in the works.

Given all this information, does the site’s tool think we will be successful? It actually states that it is likely that we can meet our $30,000 target, although it estimates that the amount raised will be between ~$16,350 and $33,200. This is quite a wide margin, and certainly there is much more room to be unsuccessful in this scenario.

Additionally, there are multiple websites that now cater specifically to healthcare crowdfunding efforts, with optimizations designed to help people raising money through their platforms.

Why you shouldn’t crowdfund your healthcare

Looking at the figures stated above, a realistic campaign without a very large existing network of people to depend on has a high chance of not being successful, as raising US$17,000 when you really need $30,000 will simply not get the job done. And here lies the major issue with crowdfunding: there is no guarantee and, when you are facing a life or death situation, uncertainty is unacceptable.

In fact, about 60% of crowdfunders are not successful in achieving their goals, which shows that you likely already are ‘behind the 8-ball’ the moment you decide to try crowdfunding your healthcare. This is especially problematic in that some crowdfunding platforms will not pay out any of the money collected if the goal is not met, returning the funds to the donors and leaving the person in need high and dry.

Additionally, crowdfunding campaigns can take quite a long time, and while hospitals can sometimes be flexible on when you can get payment to them, there are also situations where treatment will not be administered until a healthcare provider is confident that payment will be made in a timely manner.

Get reliable and comprehensive protection

The bottom line is, crowdfunding isn’t dependable, and when we’re talking about our own healthcare, we shouldn’t be leaving it up to what is effectively a gamble. If we have the means, it is much more advisable to address potential medical disasters by securing a high quality health insurance plan. With this, you have all the specifics about what will be covered and to what level well in advance of any health problems arising. This can provide peace of mind and save major headaches when a medical emergency does rear its ugly head.

If you want the dependability that a comprehensive international health insurance plan can provide, talk to the knowledgeable insurance experts at UAE Medical Insurance. They are standing by to provide you with comparisons of plans from a number of the world’s best insurance companies, as well as a free price quotation. Contact us today!


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