Survey: 20 million Americans have crowdfunded to help pay medical bills

Survey: 20 million Americans have crowdfunded to help pay medical bills
© GoFundMe/Screenshot

An estimated 8 million Americans have started crowdfunding campaigns through websites like GoFundMe to pay for medical expenses for themselves or someone in their households, according to a survey released Wednesday, 

Another 12 million Americans said they have started a campaign for someone else, according to the NORC at the University of Chicago survey

Twenty percent of Americans said they donated to such campaigns.

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The proliferation of these online fundraisers to pay for medical bills is a symptom of the increasing costs of health care, even for those who have insurance.

“As annual out-of-pocket costs continue to rise, more Americans are struggling to pay their medical bills, and millions are turning to their social networks and crowdfunding sites to fund medical treatments and pay medical bills,” said Mollie Hertel, a senior research scientist at NORC, in a press release. 

“Although about a quarter of Americans report having sponsored or donated to a campaign, this share is likely to increase in the face of rising premiums and out-of-pocket costs,” Hertel added.

GoFundMe casts itself as the "leader in online medical fundraising," with 250,000 medical campaigns launched on its website each year. 

"I would love nothing more than for 'medical' to not be a category on GoFundMe," the website's CEO, Rob Solomon, told Kaiser Health News last year.

"The reality is, though, that access to health care is connected to the ability to pay for it. If you can’t do that, people die. People suffer. We feel good that our platform is there when people need it," he added.

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The NORC survey found 85 percent of respondents thought the government should be responsible for providing help when medical care is unaffordable. 

Eighty-three percent said the same of hospitals or clinics. 

The poll was conducted between Nov. 8 and Nov. 16, 2019, and included 1,020 interviews with a nationally representative sample. It has a margin of error of 4 percent.