An estimated 50 million Americans have donated to crowdfunding campaigns for medical expenses, according to a new study.

The big picture: People without insurance often have to shoulder enormous bills all on their own, and out-of-pocket expenses are a burden even for people with insurance. Friends and family are a big part of the unofficial health care system.

By the numbers: NORC at the University of Chicago estimates that 8 million people have started a crowdfunding campaign for their own medical expenses, 12 million have started one for a friend or family member, and 50 million have donated to one.

  • Those figures are based on a survey of 1,000 people.
  • Overall, 20% of Americans reported donating to a medical crowdsourcing campaign.
  • 61% had donated to a relative, co-worker or acquaintance; 46% had donated to a friend's campaign; and 35% donated to a stranger.

Go deeper: GoFundMe's place in the health care system

Methodology: The self-funded poll was conducted Nov. 8–16, 2019, with 1,020 interviews of Americans 18 and older with a margin of error ±4.06%.

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