Crowdsourcing Healthcare

A lot of statists have been pointing out the prevalence of healthcare-related fundraisers on crowdsourcing sites like GoFundMe as an argument for implementing government monopolized healthcare (usually sold under the euphemism “universal healthcare”). On the one hand, there are quite a few healthcare-related fundraisers on crowdsourcing sites. One the other hand, a lot of them are for bullshit treatments that no government monopolized healthcare system would cover anyways:

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.

Just less than half of the campaigns were for an obvious culprit: homeopathic or naturopathic treatments for cancer, which raised $3.5 million across 474 campaigns. Around 200 campaigns were raising funds for hyberbaric oxygen therapy for brain injury, which supposedly “enhances the body’s natural healing process by inhalation of 100 percent oxygen in a total body chamber.” Much like homeopathy, it’s ineffective for anything other than efficiently emptying people’s pockets. While these treatments themselves might not do any direct harm, the harms of untreated cancer are glaring. (And we probably don’t want to be funneling funds towards the people offering these therapies.)

The other treatments on the list were less popular, but offer more direct dangers. Stem cell therapy for brain injury or spinal cord injury carries substantial risks, while unproven claims of benefits are oversold. And long-term antibiotic therapy for so-called “chronic Lyme disease” can damage the body’s microbial partners, as well as causing antibiotic resistance and heightened risk of life-threatening infections. Together, these made up around 400 campaigns, raising $2.5 million.

Isn’t it annoying when somebody performs more than a cursory glance of your shoddy argument?

Most crowdfunding sites have little oversight of fundraisers. Obviously illegal fundraisers, such as people trying to crowdsource money to buy illegal drugs, usually get pulled quickly but if somebody managed to write a solid sob story about how they’re going to lose their house or die of cancer, it seems very little investigative effort is put into verifying the claims. Does the person who setup the fundraiser even live in a house? Does the treatment being sought by the cancer patient who setup the fundraiser have any medical validity? Who knows!

If you’re going to point to the number of healthcare-related fundraisers on crowdsourcing sites, you should take the time to investigate how many of those fundraisers are legitimate.