The reason I chose crowdfunding as my presentation topic had a lot to do with all of the personal (rather than the business) uses of crowdfunding that I have noticed on social media the last few weeks. In particular, it was the spike in use of this type of social media for medical costs that caught my eye. Because even though expensive medical bills have always been a popular reason for people to turn to crowdfunding, there really seems to have been more as of these efforts as of late. Additionally, it has seemed as though these recent medical cost campaigns have also tended to more frequently be for relatively routine medical costs – for example, insulin for someone with Type 1 Diabetes – that I would have hoped would (and should) be covered by their health insurance.
All of this led me to wonder, why is this growth happening? Why does it seem like there have been more of these specific types of crowdfunding efforts now than there were just a few months ago?
One potential answer, I found, involved the changing political atmosphere and its not so favorable attitude towards the Affordable Care Act. And putting my individual political opinions to the side, I believe that the connection and implications here are still matters that are important ones to consider.
Right after President Trump was sworn in, he signed an executive order that formally declared the current administration’s long-term aim to scale back and ultimately replace the Affordable Care Act. And it was almost immediately after this event occurred that crowdfunding websites saw a flurry of activity that involved campaigns asking for the support of their community for medical care expenses. Because although Trump’s executive order is not able to immediately remove all of the benefits that are found in the Affordable Care Act, some people have started to recognize that their future health care costs may soon skyrocket. Also, it is important to note that there does exist some room under the order for health care changes to be made. As the executive order states, all agencies “with authorities and responsibilities under the Act shall exercise all authority and discretion available to them to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the Act that would impose a fiscal burden on any State.” For many people, the content of this executive order was deeply concerning and personally worrisome, and unsurprisingly, some of those people thought to turn their hopes towards the digital world.
This immense possibility that exists for medical crowdfunding to genuinely help people in need is what convinced me to look more into the overall topic of crowdfunding. And although I recognize that it is not without its own set of faults and limitations, I have truly been blown away by the potential that exists as well in this form of social media. There may be immense uncertainty in what remnants of the Affordable Care Act will still exist in a year from now, and there is also a decently strong likelihood that Trump’s “superior” replacement for the Affordable Care Act will come long after the Affordable Care Act itself is pulled. As a result, people have been feeling certain that their personal health insurance matters will become more complicated than they are at the moment, and medical crowdfunding has offered them an avenue that provides them with hope. Social media has given people who knew they would soon be in vulnerable positions a chance to (at least attempt to) minimize some of the financial burdens that are about to come. Without the digital communities they have formed through GoFundMe, YouCaring, Giveforward, or whatever crowdfunding platform it was that these people in need used, their lives would have been immensely more difficult. They have found support when they needed it the most, and it really makes me believe that there is undeniably value to be hopefully found and used in social media. Our ability to quite frequently make our digital fund raising attempts successful says a lot about people as a whole, in my opinion.
Through my dive into the world of crowdfunding, I think I have (finally) begun to realize how much of a positive force social media can be. As my first blog post conveyed, I was not the biggest social media proponent before taking this class; I had recognized some of its reported benefits, but I had clearly not appreciated the depths of those benefits. It may have simply been that I was not in awe of it after growing up with the digital world as a given aspect of everyday life, but whatever the reason for my hesitation, I have started to see a bigger picture after examining crowdfunding. My presentation research gave me an opportunity to look into ventures that would have been so much more difficult to accomplish without the existence of the digital world, and I think it has really given me reason to reevaluate—and then alter—my thoughts on social media.