Crowdfunding for medical care - innovation or tragedy

It has come to this: the kindness of strangers to fund medical care through crowdfunding. Sites such as GoFundMe and YouCaring have helped users raise millions of dollars over the years to help cover medical care. YouCaring reports that “close to half of its 350,000 active campaigns are related to healthcare and the fastest-growing category is fundraisers for cancer.” GoFundMe, the leader in crowdfunding started out to help people achieve their dreams, funding weddings and holidays. But the site has fully embraced the move to healthcare and now claims to be the number one site for “Medical, Illness & Healing fundraising.” It’s revealing and painful to read how this trend is portrayed in the foreign media (see the article from the Financial Times): “The business of healthcare turned the sick into consumers. Now crowdfunding is turning patients into products.” “Privacy is one thing successful fundraisers have to sacrifice,” as they market themselves. But there are also clues here to the deep pain-points in healthcare for the entrepreneur who wants to change the system: part of the of the attraction of crowdfunding, according to those who who have used it and talk about it, is that it gives people a sense of control - control over a system that is impersonal, complex and incoherent, especially when it comes to prices and outcomes. There is something deeply galent in how these individuals innovated for themselves in a time of crisis. The other perspective is the article in Entrepreneur India that argues that crowdfunding is a welcome mainstream tool and needed innovation to provided “healthcare for all” in a country that spends only 1.2% of GDP on healthcare and where 80% of the population doesn’t have health insurance.

Read FT: Why are so many Americans crowdfunding their healthcare?

Read KFF: GoFundMe CEO: ‘Gigantic Gaps’ In Health System Showing Up In Crowdfunding

Read Entrepreneur: Here's How Crowdfunding Can Provide Healthcare For All

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