GoFundMe was started in 2010. In 2017, it became the biggest online location for fundraising, and today it is tasked with saving the lives of thousands of Americans.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14.7 percent of adults are uninsured. Pre-pandemic, the number was 8.6 percent, and in September, it was 9.2 percent. As of now, an exclusive 20.4 percent of adults have government insurance, and it’s higher for seniors at 26 percent and even more so for children at 41.4 percent.
Roughly calculated, if insurance were randomly distributed, this would mean about one out of every three or four people you know would not have health insurance. And even within those insured, the doctors, treatments and hospitals your insurance covers is an ever-changing spiderweb that will almost never have you fully covered. Of course, health insurance is not randomly distributed; it’s a right that is treated like a luxury.
As of 2019, no state had a larger percentage of its population on Medicaid than New Mexico, and no state had a smaller percentage of people who receive health insurance from their jobs. Less than 37 percent of New Mexicans get insurance from their jobs.
To make matters worse, New Mexico has a massive lack of health care options and a lot of doctors who benefit from being one of the few in their fields. Better health care usually means travel.
When crowdfunding staple GoFundMe was started by Brad Damphousse and Andrew Ballester, the main idea was to help get passion projects off the ground.
A lot of the news stories surrounding GoFundMe are branded as heartwarming success stories — often of people who made enough money to cover medical expenses that required them to start a campaign in the first place. But nothing about this is happy. Nothing about this is good.
GoFundMe used to take 5 percent of the total money donated throughout the campaign but has recently lowered this to 2.9 percent — but only for the United States, where a third of its campaigns are related to health care, the company says. Today, it would be the biggest health insurer in a country that claims to be the richest in the world.
GoFundMe is aware the platform has become riddled with issues and is trying to align itself with a moral code. The Atlantic’s Rachel Monroe interviewed heads of the company and learned this could entail restricting what you could raise money for. For example, the Colorado baker who was fined for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple raised the money to pay that fine on GoFundMe, and it was technically within the rules. No one is quite sure how to regulate fundraising, but they know this shouldn’t be allowed to happen again.
However, this is not the most important part of the proposed changes. Current heads of the company are debating whether to require medical papers verifying your needs to start a GoFundMe campaign. The argument for this is to make sure such a depressingly vital system doesn’t get taken advantage of, but at least in my experience, a lot of the GoFundMe campaigns I’ve seen are to help people who would need money to see a doctor, get tests and hopefully a diagnosis. I also see a lot for teenagers who need to escape abusive, often transphobic homes, but the vast majority are medical. So many people who need GoFundMe would no longer have the option of using it.
If executed perfectly, refining the rules of GoFundMe would be really nice, but it’s not even the issue at hand. The issue at hand is the U.S. government repeatedly putting money over human lives. Beggars can’t be choosers, but you shouldn’t have to beg for human rights. The first part of this wish is objectively impossible, but so many other countries have universal health care, or even cheaper and usually better health care.