In 2015, the average cost of a hospital stay for cancer patients was $31,390. That’s half of the median household income for that year. It costs, on average, $292,000 to treat the most common type of childhood cancer. While some can rely on comprehensive insurance to cover these expenses, millions of Americans don’t have that coverage. More and more, underinsured and uninsured patients are turning to crowdfunding platforms to cover medical bills.
Every year, there are over 250,000 medical campaigns on GoFundMe, raising $650 million in total. The purpose of one in three GoFundMe campaigns is for covering the cost of medical treatments. But, only one out of ten healthcare fundraisers meet their goal. On YouCaring, another personal fundraising platform, cancer is the fastest-growing category for fundraisers.
In the United States, medical debt is the leading cause of bankruptcy. Americans spend almost twice as much on healthcare than those in other developed countries, yet still have worse health outcomes. Administrative costs account for 8 percent of U.S. healthcare spending, compared to 1 to 3 percent in other countries.
In a survey of working-age Americans, nearly half said they would be unable to pay an unexpected $1,000 medical bill in 30 days. There are more than 27 million people in the country without health insurance. Even people with health insurance, especially those suffering from chronic illnesses, often struggle to make ends meets.
The recent news story of a Florida teacher with colon cancer who was donated PTO from his coworkers so he could finish receiving treatment was supposed to be a heartwarming article about the generosity of others, but is instead a perfect example of how broken the American healthcare system is. There is no federal requirement that employers provide sick days to their employees.
GoFundMe is not health insurance, and though it’s great people have been able to use it to get medical treatment, it’s a sign that our healthcare system is broken. While charity is great, it’s not the solution to a healthcare system that’s unable to provide care to its patients. It forces sick and vulnerable people to beg for the money to save their life, and people die when they aren’t able to meet their fundraising goal.