Fact Check: One in Three GoFundMe Campaigns Are For Medical Bills

Fact Check: One in Three GoFundMe Campaigns Are For Medical Bills

Fact Check: One in Three GoFundMe Campaigns Are For Medical Bills. Photo: Pexels

For many Americans, GoFundMe campaigns have become a vehicle for paying medical expenses. In Jan. 2019, the fundraising platform’s CEO told CBS News one-in-three of its campaigns relate to covering healthcare costs.

“When we started in 2010, it wasn’t purposefully set up and built to be a substitute for medical insurance,” GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon told CBS MoneyWatch. “We weren’t ever set up to be a health care company and we still are not. But over time, people have used GoFundMe for the most important issues they are faced with.”

It is an issue that is exacerbated with the continual rising of healthcare costs and President Donald Trump Administration’s attempts to do away with the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare).

Even those with health insurance turn to the platform because in many cases they are underinsured for the medical procedures they require.

For example, physical therapist Carter, 40, owns his own practice in Austin, Texas. While they are insured by Aetna, he said his children’s medical expenses outpace his family’s coverage.

“Now our son is on a ventilator, and for both of them they have a higher likelihood — if they get a cold or flu or anything at all — of needing to go to the hospital. So even getting really good cleaning materials is an expense,” Carter told CBS. “There are all these things we need to get to make sure these kids have the best chance of staying healthy. That is never going to be fully covered even if you have best insurance in the world.”

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In Feb. a report by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago said more than 8 million Americans started campaigns for themselves or loved ones to cover everything from routine medical care to major surgeries.

“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, senior research scientist at NORC. “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.”

With the constant changes on the healthcare.gov website that show plans with higher deductibles and premiums replacing lower-cost ones, the trend is likely to continue.

Ross said it is why medical fundraisers continue to dominate their platform.

“Medical-related fundraisers tend to be the largest category in any market,” Solomon said. “Insurance may cover the medical payment side of it, but it doesn’t cover you being out of work or needing transportation or lodging away from your home. So it is still a very big category in every market.”

He added he was “proud” GoFundMe is able to help provide relief to struggling families.

“People want to help, and we actually solve big problems,” Solomon said. “While we didn’t set out to be one of the most influential health care companies in the world, if we have to serve that purpose, I feel very proud about that.”