If you’ve ever had a friend who raised money for healthcare on a website, you’re not alone: a recent report details how nearly $1 billion of all GoFundMe campaign dollars raised went towards helping those with expensive health costs, accounting for half of the total funds raised on the site.
The report, compiled by NerdWallet, details how prevalent this trend has become: GoFundMe isn’t alone in this, for example. Other crowdfunding sites, including YouCaring and GiveForward (which merged this year), saw similar rates of giving going toward health costs for its participants.
Despite several successes involved with implementing the Affordable Care Act (often called Obamacare), many people still struggle with health costs. About one in five Americans struggle with paying for health costs, even when they do have insurance. And another NPR survey demonstrated that nearly 30 percent of all Americans say that health costs are still “unreasonable.”
Many people who utilize crowdfunding sites to receive financial assistance from strangers depend on good marketing as well, rather than medical necessity. People who write, “‘I need help with my deductible’—they are not going to be very successful,” explains Adrienne Gonzalez, an expert in crowdfunding campaigns and frauds who runs the site GoFraudMe.com. “The more dramatic the need, the more successful.”
All of this is indicative of a healthcare system that still needs to be fixed. Obamacare has created significant improvements in the healthcare system, but crowdfunding sites are still seeing users who struggle to make ends meet. “Is this something that is going to be a solution to a lack of health insurance? Absolutely not,” says Jeremy Snyder, a health sciences professor in Canada.
Those seeking help from the government should consider which direction things are heading: the proposed TrumpCare bill, for example, would actually raise costs for lower income individuals compared to the current law. Some states, however, are toying with the idea of single payer healthcare, which may reduce the need for crowdfunding campaigns.
The NerdWallet study shows that 41 percent of all crowdfunding performed on five sites in 2015 went toward healthcare expenses. The average campaign was also a staggeringly-high number: users of the sites asked, on average, for financial assistance above $15,000.