Monday, October 23, 2017

Crowdfunding for Medical Treatments for the Poor

Three years ago, I had a heart attack. I was hospitalised at UMMC and had my angioplasty there. It cost me RM10K, inclusive of ward charges. I was lucky I had health insurance I bought on a whim in my 20s.

Now, in my ward, there was a rotating cast of characters. I remember one of them vividly. He had the exact same problem as I did. He suffered a heart attack and he was supposed to get an angioplasty.

The Welfare Dept identified him as a real poor guy. So they pledged to pay 50% of his medical fees, which amounts to RM5K. He just needs to find another RM5K to get his treatment.

Unfortunately, he told me he didn't have RM5K, no relatives, no savings, nothing.

"Easy for you, you're Malay," he said, with resentment.

I kept quiet because even though I paid everything through my own funds and did not receive the RM5K assistance from Welfare Dept, I understood his desperation. I was angry at this racist bullshit, but I understand.

That man will take aspirin and go home after his heart attack and hope he doesn't get one in the next few weeks or months. The chances of him surviving the next heart attack is possibly 40-60%.

I thought of all the FB pages asking for donations for one medical condition or another, and also the scams mixing it up with the real cases.

So after getting discharged, I went around for a while with a pitch for a crowdfunding website like Kickstarter, using existing local platforms like mystartr.

The idea is, after hooking up with the Welfare Dept and the hospital, a bunch of volunteers can determine and isolate the charity cases after they have been filtered by the Welfare Dept to ask for donations from the public. The funds will go straight to a hospital account to these identified cases.

The volunteers will keep the public updated via the website on how the treatments have been administered, and whatever happens to the patients. They must be trained to respect the modesty and privacy of these poor people, and not photograph them at their weakest or in dishabille.

It will also filter the scams. If you feel like donating, it's better to do so in cases where the Welfare Dept AND the hospital have vetted through them and not some random FB page set up by God-knows-who.

This will save lives.

I met a few people willing to do the thing, but could not get any hospital to say yes. I believe they think I'm bringing more work to them or they think I'm trying to scam for money.

In any case, I have heard of other similar initiatives being started by one or two banks. But I have not heard from them since.

I wonder if the idea is still viable nowadays. Maybe it's a bad one. But whatever. I felt like sharing this.