CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

The Shortfalls of Health Care Crowdfunding in Addressing the Needs of the Underserved

Kevin Yang, University of Pennsylvania

Division: Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Political Science

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Marc Meredith

Date of this Version: 01 April 2020



Because the cost of health care is increasing, more Americans are relying on crowdfunding to finance their health care expenses. Health care crowdfunding occurs when people seek donations through online crowdfunding platforms to pay for their health care costs. This thesis seeks to use theories in charitable giving and health care crowdfunding to understand if crowdfunding dollars are going to the people who need them most. Low-income individuals in non-Medicaid expansion states and patients with chronic diseases are not adequately covered by the private insurance market, thus they require the most need. However, donors evaluate need subjectively and are more likely to donate to those who are like them. As such, statistically analyzing GoFundMe campaigns reveals that crowdfunding campaigns for low-income individuals and chronically ill patients are less successful. These finding contribute to charitable giving literature in contextualizing a modern phenomenon within a rich body of private provision for basic goods theories. Moreover, they contribute to the health care crowdfunding literature by being the first study to test whether health care crowdfunding is addressing people with the greatest need for it. The implications for these findings are that health care crowdfunding falls short of addressing the market frictions of private insurance markets. Thus, crowdfunding is not a sustainable solution.

Suggested Citation

Yang, Kevin, "The Shortfalls of Health Care Crowdfunding in Addressing the Needs of the Underserved" 01 April 2020. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 10 June 2020




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