America's Newest Healthcare Plan: Begging For Help Online

If you want that wheelchair or insulin, you'd better go viral.

Screenshot via GoFundMe

A good way to not die in America is to be rich. And a good way to not end up poor in this country is to never get sick. Failing to land all of those lucky breaks, more and more Americans are turning to online crowdfunding campaigns to haul themselves out from under their piles of medical bills. A 2016 study from the website NerdWallet found that 41% of campaigns on crowdfunding sites in 2015 were set up to pay medical costs — by far the largest share of total crowdfunding.

So how is the Hope to God your rich and generous friends spot your chemo GoFundMe model working out for people? Not particularly well. Just 11% of medical crowdfunding campaigns get fully funded, according to the NerdWallet study, which Inverse first spotted in an article by Business Insider’s Lydia Ramsey. In May, Ted Closson recounted for The Nib the story of his friend Shane who died $50 short of his GoFundMe goal for a month of Insulin.

Still, it’s not a shocker that folks keep turning to the giving internet for help with their bills. Today, 28.6 million Americans — 9.1% of the total population — are uninsured. There’s no good national data on how many people die each year for lack of insurance, but the best available research puts the number somewhere in the tens of thousands.

Among Americans with medical insurance, a full one in five struggle to pay for treatment. On average, folks with employer-sponsored insurance spend about $1000 per year out of pocket on prescription drugs, and that more than doubles if they have cancer, a blood disease, or one of many other disorders.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is leading a group of Republicans hashing out the future of American healthcare behind closed doors.

Getty Images / Zach Gibson

These numbers are particularly interesting at a moment when Republican Senators are debating behind closed doors a healthcare bill that’s expected to strip insurance funding from several million Americans. While the uninsured rate has been nearly halved since before the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was passed in 2010, the House bill on which the Senate bill is based was projected to strip health insurance from 23 million Americans.

Meanwhile, states including California, Nevada, and New York are inching toward policies aimed at achieving universal coverage.

Here are some scenes from this universe where a person’s access to insulin or cancer treatment depends on their ability to generate a viral post:

Insulin for my Graduate:

Insulin is EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE and if he had a choice he would not choose this for his life. But he is dealing with it as best he can. Due to medical insurance changes he finds himself starting his new venture with a college degree but no way of paying for the insulin he so desperately needs. My parents and I have been helping as much as we can, but that is wearing on us financially. We contacted the manufacturer who provided us with a discount card that allowed for $100 off of the $2300 bill, which doesn’t even come close.

Help Jordan Fight Brain Cancer

Jordan (7 months old) has recently discovered a tumor living in in brain (Ependymoma)… The tumor is late stage, aggressive and rare (a Grade 3 Supratentorial anaplastic ependymoma RELA - fusion positive)… Due to the contraints of his parent’s medical coverage, they’ve been left with limited options and financial hardship ahead.

A Wheelchair for Nyomi

Nyomi is a fabulous 5 year-old-girl with Cerebral Palsy who needs a wheelchair at home. The chair she currently has doesn’t allow her to freely move and play and makes day to day life more challenging than it should be. Insurance doesn’t see or understand the need for an accessible chair at home, so we’re going to help Nyomi out and make sure she’s able to do all the things her friends and sister are doing!
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