Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Crowd-funding sites like GoFundMe have become a critical part of the health care system — and GoFundMe’s CEO recognizes that that’s a bad thing.

By the numbers: GoFundMe sees more than 250,000 campaigns each year related to medical expenses. They account for about a third of the roughly $5 billion people donate through the site, according to Kaiser Health News.

What they’re saying: In an interview with KHN, GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon made clear he is not thrilled about what this says for the U.S. health care system. Some highlights:

  • “I had no notion of how severe the problem is. You read about the debate about single-payer health care and all the issues, the partisan politics. What I really learned is the health care system in the United States is really broken. Way too many people fall through the cracks.”
  • “The system is terrible … there are people who are not getting relief from us or from the institutions that are supposed to be there. We shouldn’t be the solution to a complex set of systemic problems.”

Not everyone can launch a successful health care fundraiser. It often takes "medical literacy, social-media savvy and access to video-making equipment," as Marketplace noted last year.

  • The crowdfunding attempts that struggled the most came from people with “multiple and overlapping health and social crises” — the same people who often have the hardest time with the traditional health care system.

Our reliance on charity goes further, too. There’s a different charity, called R.I.P. Medical Debt, that buys up and pays off people’s medical debts. So far it has paid off $434 million — out of the $750 billion Americans owe.

The bottom line: Our health care system is … not great.

Go deeper: Surprise medical bills could be a powerful campaign issue

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