Crowdfunding Sites Are Booming Thanks to People Who Need Help With Crushing Medical Bills

Don’t worry. You can pay for it on GoFundMe.


Today in heartbreaking indictments of the entire U.S. health care system: Bloomberg is out with a piece about how online crowdfunding campaigns by families who need help paying medical bills have become so common they’re driving the growth of major platforms like GoFundMe. And given the direction health care seems to be headed in this country, companies expect that trend to continue.

“Whether it’s Obamacare or Trumpcare, the weight of health-care costs on consumers will only increase,”  Dan Saper, chief executive officer of the platform YouCaring, told Bloomberg. “It will drive more people to try and figure out how to pay health-care needs, and crowdfunding is in its early days as a way to help those people.”


A few remarkable tidbits from the piece, which I recommend reading in full:


  • Between September 2015 and October 2016, total fundraising on GoFundMe grew by about $2 billion—$930 million of which was for medical expenses.
  • At YouCaring, medical fundraisers were “approaching” half of its business before it purchased GiveForward, where they made up 70 percent of all fundraising.
  • A study of crowdfunding campaigns found that they disproportionately came from states that refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act—which makes sense, since they tend to have higher uninsured rates.

As Helaine Olen wrote in Slate a couple years back, the fact that these campaigns have become a mundane, ambient part of American life on the internet is one of the more stinging reflections of our health care system, even with the improvements created by Obamacare. What’s especially cruddy about these campaigns is the false sense of hope the create: As Bloomberg notes, while a few high-profile fundraisers can rake in massive donations, people who resort to online begging for more everyday medical expenses often come up short.

Of course, Republicans are now working on a repeal law that will guarantee many years more of heart-rending online appeals by families who need help paying for their kids’ open-heart surgery. This is quite literally the future conservatives want.