The rise in medical bill crowdfunding

If your parents got injured and went to the hospital when they were young, and if they couldn’t afford the bills, they may have asked family members to loan them money. They may have gotten help from friends. They may have turned to a local church or some other organization.

Today, though people still do the things noted above, they also use crowdfunding. This is the process of creating an account online through one of the many crowdfunding sites and then asking people to donate to the cause. This is a widespread practice, with millions of dollars being raised this way every year. GoFundMe itself has raised around $3 billion.

Is this fair?

This does raise a lot of questions. We already know that medical debt is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy. What does that, combined with the fact that people have to crowdfund to cover what they owe, say about the medical industry?

One potential criticism is that some people have larger online networks or better skills with technology. This can give them an edge when compared to people without those skills or contacts.

Another issue is that emotional backstories can play a role. Strangers only have so much money to give and may only take a few seconds to read each page. Two patients may have the same condition and the same financial needs, but, if one of them is a parent of three young children, is that person going to get more donations?

Problems with medical debt

Overall, though, this just underscores how common medical debt is and how big of a problem it poses if people have to ask strangers on the internet to help. Those facing this type of debt need to know about all of the legal options they may have. This is true even for those who do have the contacts to crowdfund, but especially for those who do not.

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