Crowdfunding to pay for medical bills rarely works: study
Doctor with Patient. (Shutterstock)

A new study found that few GoFundMe campaigns met their fundraising goals, and the problem has been getting worse.

Researchers from the University of Washington examined nearly 500,000 campaigns launched between 2016 and 2020, which raised more than $2 billion from 21.7 million donations, but fewer than 12 percent met their goals and 16 percent raised no money at all, reported Gizmodo.

“Because the campaigns people see on social networks are almost always the small subset that are shared widely, the public may have the impression that crowdfunding is more likely to be successful than it really is,” said study author Mark Igra, a sociology graduate student."

A full third of campaigns raised no money at all in 2020, and the median campaign raised less than $2,000 over the five-year period.

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Previous studies made similar findings, and other studies have suggested that people who are already poor fare even worse.

The new study, which cross-referenced census and other data, also found 20 percent of campaigns were started by individuals living in areas with the lowest incomes, but garnered only about 12 percent of all the money raised last year, while more campaigns were launched in states states with the highest rates of medical debt and uninsurance.

“Despite its popularity and portrayals as an ad-hoc safety net, medical crowdfunding is misaligned with key indicators of health financing needs in the United States,” the authors wrote. “It is best positioned to help in populations that need it the least.”