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The Rising Trend of Crowdfunding for Medical Expenses: A Critical Look

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Mason Walker
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The Rising Trend of Crowdfunding for Medical Expenses: A Critical Look

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In a world where medical costs are skyrocketing, patients are left to grapple with large bills that can lead to financial ruin. One solution that has gained considerable traction in recent years is the use of crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe to help mitigate these expenses. However, while crowdfunding can offer a lifeline for patients in dire straits, it also throws into sharp relief the systemic issues plaguing the healthcare industry.

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GoFundMe and Medical Expenses

There has been a marked increase in the number of medical fundraising campaigns on GoFundMe. In fact, the platform has become so synonymous with medical fundraising that patient advocates and hospital financial aid officers often recommend it as an alternative to being sent to collections. According to a report in The Atlantic, over 500 campaigns are currently dedicated towards treating individuals, mostly kids, with spinal muscular atrophy, a severe medical condition.

The Socioeconomic Disparities

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Despite the apparent benefits, research suggests that crowdfunding perpetuates socioeconomic disparities. Success in fundraising is often influenced by social status and wealth. Wealthy or famous individuals are more likely to achieve their fundraising goals than their less affluent counterparts. A study highlighted by Phys.org found that wealthier households, earning over $150,000, receive 28% more support than those earning below $75,000. They were also found to have larger and more geographically dispersed networks of donors, further contributing to the imbalance.

The Financial Struggles of Patients

Healthcare costs in the United States have risen significantly, with 44% of Americans reporting an increase. This has resulted in financial struggles for many patients. According to an article published on Health IT Answers, about 30% of US adults would struggle to handle a surprise medical bill of just $250. The high costs have also led to many Americans skipping care altogether, with 31% of young adults and 19% of those aged 55 to 64 postponing medical treatments due to the cost.

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Looking Beyond Crowdfunding

While crowdfunding platforms offer a temporary solution, they do not address the systemic issues that have led to their necessity. The reliance on individual generosity and the influence of socioeconomic factors on the success of campaigns are cause for concern. The stark reality is that American healthcare costs can still feel inadequate even for those with successful fundraising. It's clear that a more comprehensive solution is needed, one that addresses the root causes of high healthcare costs, such as out-of-network providers and the financial aid processes at hospitals.

Conclusion

The rising trend of medical crowdfunding, while useful, underscores the urgent need for reform in the healthcare system. In a society where access to healthcare is a fundamental right, it's important to address the systemic issues that make crowdfunding a necessity rather than a choice. Without this, the disparities will only widen, and the burden on patients will continue to grow.

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