Jan 17, 2019

GoFundMe's place in the health care system

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

Go deeper

Netanyahu says July 1 deadline for West Bank annexation won't change

Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday at a Likud Party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, that his July 1 deadline for starting the process of annexation in the West Bank will not change, according to people in attendance.

Why it matters: The White House and the State Department have stressed over the last few weeks that the deadline set by Netanyahu is "not sacred" to the Trump administration — and that any discussion of annexation needs to be in the context of renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina if capacity reduced

President Trump on stage during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Ohio. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

President Trump threatened in a series of Monday tweets to move this summer's Republican National Convention from Charlotte if North Carolina's Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, doesn't allow the event to be held at full capacity.

The state of play: Mandy Cohen, the state's health and human services secretary, said last week that the GOP should "plan for the worst" as mass gatherings will be a "very big challenge" if the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to increase, per NPR.

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.