Social media is one of those damned if you do and damned if you don’t aspects of life today. Scores of people have lost their jobs, even high positions, after a less than thoughtful tweet. Social media spreads false news and rumours and has complicated childhood unnecessarily.
But, that’s not the whole story.
Our tweets and our Facebook posts have saved lives also.
The power of social media to create awareness is unparalleled and people have leveraged it to boost crowdfunding campaigns for many worthy causes including to fund their medical expenses. Or to put it another way: to make up for the shortcomings of a broken medical system.
People are struggling with staggering medical bills and are turning to crowdfunding to offset the costs.
In fact, a new study reports that almost half of crowdfunding campaigns were for medical costs in 2015. Data from crowdfunding sites like GiveForward, Plumfund, FundRazr and Red Basket shows an average of 41% of crowdfunding campaigns in 2015 seeked to help people out with staggering medical expenses.
According to the report by NerdWallet nearly $1 billion of all GoFundMe campaign dollars raised since 2010 went towards helping those with exorbitant health bills, accounting for half of the total funds raised on the site.
“Given our current health care system, even with some of the changes being made in the last few years, there is so much money that goes uncovered even when you do have coverage,” GiveForward CEO Josh Chapman told NerdWallet.
The report reference a survey taken in 2015 by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health according to which 26% of adults in the U.S. revealed that they have serious financial problems due to health care costs.
It’s really bad.
People are not asking for small sums on these sites. The average goal per medical campaign was a staggering $15,721 in 2010.
GiveForward had the highest percentage (68%) of campaigns that were for medical purposes.
Serious medical conditions are behind many of the complaints.
According to the report serious illnesses and diseases like cancer are the most common reasons for people to launch medical crowdfunding campaigns.
The combination of social media and crowdfunding is a powerful force for good in the world.
Crowdfunding campaigns for medical assistance are often not started by the person in need, but by a friend or family member. It’s this aspect that’s implicated in the success of these campaigns.
“They tend to be more successful because it’s not someone asking for money for themselves. Something about that dynamic moves people to want to give,” Plumfund co-founder and CEO Sara Margulis told NerdWallet.