The cost of crowdfunding

Last summer while I was laid low by a wrecked nervous system, a friend who is a legitimate social-media maven suggested turning to GoFundMe; the campaign didn’t quite make its $4000 goal, but the last installment on the hospital bill was only $3800 or so, so I figured I had no reason to complain.

There are, however, some ethical-ish questions raised by this practice:

Medical crowdfunding could have negative effects on equitable access to health care. The likelihood of a crowdfunding campaign reaching its funding goal may depend in part on factors such as the kind of treatment needed and the reason for the campaign. Differentiation by the popularity of the medical cause or sympathy for the recipient goes against principles of treating patients according to the severity of their medical needs or aiming for the greatest good in treatment. In other words, funding according to popularity runs against evidence-based attempts to use our health care funding as fairly and efficiently as possible.

I have always felt that I had more recognition than I could possibly deserve, so I can see this, maybe.

Other factors, such as the recipient’s physical appearance, social connections, ability to get media attention for the story, and online communication skills are also likely to affect a campaign’s success. If those characteristics are correlated with the recipient’s position in society, then medical crowdfunding will have a tendency to benefit mostly those who are already in a relatively advantaged position.

At this one, I shrug; life has always favored rich young pretty people, the sort who get mentioned in Vanity Fair sidebars while still in their twenties, and it would be silly to expect otherwise from their crowdfunding campaigns.

If we had a truly egalitarian healthcare system, perhaps some of these concerns would evaporate. But I think it’s a safe bet that other criticisms would arise, particularly among those who fancy themselves the Official Measurers of legally defined equality.





4 comments

  1. Holly H »

    2 February 2017 · 2:43 pm

    Interesting debate about medical crowdfunding. Glad to hear that yours came close. I subscribe to the Bernie Sanders all-out socialism school. Of course it would raise everybody’s taxes. So my solution to that is: 1) End all our costly wars, including the War on Drugs, and 2) End our foolish subsidies of the fossil fuels sector, and 3) End all our other foolish wasteful practices while we’re at it. Yep. Naive.

    Oh yeah, and somebody explain to Trump that we do NOT need to spend 14 billion on that silly wall.

  2. McG »

    2 February 2017 · 3:11 pm

    Differentiation by the popularity of the medical cause or sympathy for the recipient goes against principles of treating patients according to the severity of their medical needs or aiming for the greatest good in treatment.

    While that’s an essential principle for the medical profession itself, its application to the public is misguided. Furthermore, all third-party health care funding runs afoul of some Hippocratic principle or another, and single-payer is just third-party-without-recourse, giving Patty and Selma a say in your treatment options.

    So I’m all for as many additional options for paying for health care as anyone can access. If all the Hollywoodiots pushing single-payer would instead follow in the footsteps of Danny Thomas or Jerry Lewis, a whole lot of the unwilling poster children for socialized medicine would instead get treated and/or cured without being used as political footballs.

    I’d call that far more humane.

  3. fillyjonk »

    3 February 2017 · 8:38 am

    I dunno. One Lesson of Adulthood I have learned is that life is inherently unfair….so if person has friends willing to tip it to being “unfair in their favor,” I am perfectly fine with that.

    (I know if I had some Major Medical Issue where I would suddenly burn through the several-thousand-dollar deductible I have, my parents would still be in the position to help me out, and that’s unfair too, in the grand scheme of things, but I wouldn’t turn down their offer of help because principles.)

  4. Roger O Green »

    3 February 2017 · 9:19 am

    .Some of us think you’re young (well, younger than I) and pretty.

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