The top three medical emergencies in India, based on last years survey data, are accidents, strokes and heart attacks. All of these are expensive to treat and more often than not, are either partially covered or not covered at all by insurance policies. Medical emergency treatment is highly problematic, especially given the costs at private hospitals in India. If you are admitted for a week at any good private hospital, only room rent charges amount up to Rs. 25,000! The costs skyrocket in case you need to be admitted in the ICU (which at some hospitals costs close to Rs.11,000 a day) or need to be operated (use of the OT is also tagged at a high cost), this is all exclusive of doctor’s fee, medicines, and postoperative care costs.
Emergencies come unforecasted. While that might sound like a redundant statement, the inevitable unpredictability of a medical emergency is what exhausts savings and financial options for most families. Emergency treatment comes at much larger personal costs to multiple people attached to the sufferer.
Shobhana, for instance was a breadwinner for her family. She worked a comfortable job at an MNC and all was well for her financially. Until one day, when she was met with a bad turn of events as she returned back from work. She was travelling in an autorickshaw when two men tried to snatch her purse. The force of the pull hurled Shobana out of the rickshaw and she sustained major injuries, resulting in a hospital treatment that went on for 4 and a half months and included two major brain surgeries. One and a half year on, Shobhana, though recovering slowly, is still limited to her home. Shobhana, who until her accident, was financially sustaining herself and her mother, now has to be dependent on financial help from others. She could no longer work and the emergency treatment at the hospital had drained all her savings.
What options did she have? She still needed funds for her daily medicine, a nurse and for physiotherapy. Her sister too couldn’t afford to offer monetary help. That’s when she decided to turn to the crowd. Her fundraiser on Impact Guru, a crowdfunding platform for social and medical causes, has raised more than 8 lakhs and is paying towards her daily medical costs. Emergency treatment for Shobhana turned into a long-term cost. Crowdfunding remedied this.
Much like Shobhana, crowdfunding has also come to aid many others struggling to fund emergency treatment. Crowdfunding allows one in any medical emergency to quickly reach out to friends, family and their network to receive help. Usually this help is immediate as friends and family along with their networks understand that the fund is needed immediately. Contributions are given on one platform and the integration of payment gateways ensures that donations can flow in smoothly from any part of the world.
Rather than chasing insurance companies, who will in most cases make you read the policy several times before you discover that it doesn’t consider the emergency treatment you need funds for or running to banks for a loan with insulting interest rates, crowdfunding provides an unburdening financial solution that emerges out of empathy from your social network. After all, even if it’s an acquaintance, who would refuse another help if a life is at stake?
As 20-year-old Rinkal’s father found out, people are always more than willing to help. As Rinkal lay in the ICU after she met with an accident on her way to Malshej Ghat in Maharashtra, her father was running to various trusts looking for financial help for her emergency treatment. “Our entire savings have been depleted till now and we have been reaching out to multiple trusts and NGOs from where we have been able to accommodate for her till date medical expenses,” her father wrote on the fundraiser on Impact Guru. He chooe crowdfunding in the wake of having no other option, but soon made it his primary choice to raise money for his daughter. His ongoing fundraiser has already raised Rs. 4.3 lakhs and is steadily moving toward its goal.
Crowdfunding in India is a road less taken, but often the one most rewarded. More and more patients are now choosing it to pay for emergency treatment, thanks to the efforts of crowdfunding platforms like Impact Guru, who are constantly reaching out to hospitals and patients. In the wake of goodwill financing in the name of crowdfunding, maybe traditional financing will soon become obsolete.