Crowdfunding is big business for healthcare. GoFundMe alone has raised more than $5 billion in the last eight years, with one out of every three campaigns raising money to cover healthcare costs, according to GoFundMe’s CEO. Often, these campaigns are for the uninsured or underinsured, and help provide legitimate medical care. But other times, people are raising funds to pay for questionable treatments, according to a brief report in JAMA today.
Brain injury specialist Ford Vox and a team of three medical ethicists searched GoFundMe and three lesser-used crowdfunding sites (YouCaring, CrowdRise, and FundRazr) for campaigns involving questionable treatments: those that don’t do much at all, and others that do something potentially dangerous.
They focused on five treatments that were showing up a lot in their results, searching the sites systematically for US- and Canada-based campaigns from the last three years that were specifically for those five. They found 1,059 campaigns that fit the bill, with the collective goal of raising more than $27 million, and hitting about a quarter of that target.