When GoFundMe was launched in 2010, the crowdfunding website suggested using the site for "ideas and dreams," "wedding donations and honeymoon registry," or "special occasions." Most of the fundraisers from the first year were "related to charities and foundations," a spokeswoman said. A category for medical care collection efforts existed on the site, but it was far from what the creators envisioned as part of the future of the site.
But for the past nine years, fundraisers related to paying for medical expenses have contributed a third of the $5 billion total the company has raised—more than any other individual category. Over a quarter of a million health care campaigns are conducted each year.
Some, like the 25-year-old California woman who suffered from a stroke, need "financial support for rehabilitation, home nursing, medical equipment and uncovered medical expenses." Others, like a couple from Tennessee, require tens of thousands of dollars for operations that "need to be paid for upfront and out-of-pocket" but aren't covered by their insurance.
“It saddens me that this is a reality,” CEO Rob Solomon said in an interview. “Every single day on GoFundMe we see the huge challenges people face. Their stories are heartbreaking.”
Solomon expressed that his team “didn’t build the platform to focus on medical expenses,” but the “gigantic gaps in the [health care] system” gave individuals no choice but to seek help wherever they could find it.
“The health care system in the United States is really broken,” he said. “Way too many people fall through the cracks.”