Via Andy Orin on Lifehacker, Facebook is jumping on the ‘earn a bit of side profit by mediating folk’s desperate pleas for money to help cover emergency expenses in the worlds wealthiest country’ bandwagon. They’ll be providing and in-house facilitation of fundraising for six categories—including, at least, the one less dismal request for educational needs. As the company puts it on their announcement page, “[w]e’re constantly inspired by all the good done by people on Facebook and are committed to building tools that help build a supportive and safe global community.”
As Orin put it this is another move in what could be described as a dark, dearthful trend in begging for money to cover essential needs, and a “brutal illustration of a broken medical system that forces individuals to ask for money just to live.” I know that such campaigns are a depressingly common occurrence for the hometown portion of my Facebook feed, where the median income is $35,000 and change, even in a state that (albeit imperfectly) expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s read the regular surveys showing that many folks cannot cover sudden costs of $500-$1000. Last year’s Federal Reserve version reported the average surprise expense was over two thousand dollars—well above what most people say they would struggle to afford. This complicates current Republican models for increasing individual ‘responsibility’ and raising out-of-pocket spending on health care. More, that their support for increasing the caps on health savings accounts wouldn’t mitigate any of this, because if these folks had extra money to sock away for future medical costs they wouldn’t have to crowdfund their kid’s funeral or facial reconstruction.
Despite what I often write about here and more notably on Twitter I do try to straddle the line between optimist and hopelessness, consciously holding in my head that, specifically in respect to the ACA, some aspects are better and also many others are still not good enough. Whatever gains we’ve made it’s still entirely correct to say that what we have here is catastrophically insufficient. All the more reason to support Medicare for All.