“There’s just a lot of cost associated with the medical space, and it has become a very important category on GoFundMe.”

According to numerous polls, one in four Americans report that the biggest worry they face is the high cost of healthcare. Because of this, many are turning to GoFundMe to fill in the gaps left by their health insurance.

The largest, online, crowd-sourced fundraising platform, GoFundMe reports that during the eight years it has existed, people have raised more than $5 billion from about 50 million donations for various causes.  

With the high cost of healthcare, many Americans can’t afford insurance at all. Setting up a GoFundMe page has become a popular way for people with or without health insurance to raise money to help pay doctors and other health providers.

Robert and Tiffany Cano of San Tan Valley, Arizona, spend approximately 15 percent of their annual income on healthcare, which is nearly three times the national average for non-Medicare households.

The Canos have a health insurance plan that requires thousands of dollars before the coverage takes effect. Unfortunately, more than 40 percent of 152 million Americans who receive health insurance through their work are in the same predicament.

GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon says that medical fundraisers, which bring in more money than any other GoFundMe category, account for 1 in 3 of the site’s campaigns.

Solomon says, “In the old paradigm you would give $20 to somebody who needed help. In the new paradigm you’ll give $20, you’ll share that and that could turn into 10, 20, 50 or 100 people doing that. So, the $20 could turn into hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.”

Solomon is concerned with the way healthcare works and the coverage people have. “There’s just a lot of cost associated with the medical space, and it has become a very important category on GoFundMe,” he says.

According to Sarah Collins, vice president of healthcare coverage and access at The Commonwealth Fund, Americans’ confidence in affording healthcare is plunging. High deductibles and copays have rendered some health plans virtually unusable, although many plans cover numerous conventional treatments.

“We find that underinsured people are nearly as likely to report problems paying their medical bills as people who don’t have any insurance,” Collins told National Public Radio. “And they also report not getting needed healthcare at rates that are nearly as high as those who are uninsured.”

When Collins’ organization asked working-age Americans in a recent survey whether they could afford an unexpected medical bill of $1,000 in 30 days, almost half said they couldn’t.

Collins says that it should be no surprise that people are turning to raising money through crowdsourcing, “but it really should be a deep concern for policymakers and providers.”

GoFundMe previously kept about 5 percent of fundraising proceeds, along with charging a 3 percent credit card processing fee. Although it still charges the credit card fee, it no longer collects 5 percent of the fundraising proceeds.

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