50 million Americans participate in crowdfunding for medical bills, NORC study finds

One in 5 — or an estimated 50 million — Americans said they or someone in their household contributed to a crowdfunding campaign like those on GoFundMe to help pay for medical bills, according to a new survey from NORC at the University of Chicago.

The AmeriSpeak Spotlight on Health survey included responses from more than 1,000 interviewees. Based on the responses, the survey estimated 8 million Americans have started a campaign to help pay for their or their family's medical bills, while 12 million started a campaign for another person. The larger numbers were extrapolated from the responses.

"As annual out-of-pocket costs continue to rise, more Americans are struggling to pay their medical bills, and millions are turning to their social networks and crowdfunding sites to fund medical treatments and pay medical bills," Mollie Hertel, senior research scientist at NORC, said in a prepared statement. "Although about a quarter of Americans report having sponsored or donated to a campaign, this share is likely to increase in the face of rising premiums and out-of-pocket costs."

The survey also found while Americans were more likely to help a friend pay for their medical bills, a large percentage donated to campaigns for people they didn't know.

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