Caleb Howe, a regular contributor to Erick Erickson’s conservative RedState site, is in the hospital with liver failure. Because Howe doesn’t have health insurance, he and his family are worried that they won’t be able to handle the impending bills — but the Internet has stepped in to help.
On Tuesday, a page for Howe was created on the crowd funding website GoFundMe, explaining that his family needs to preserve his health for the benefit of his two daughters. “It would lift an incredible burden for Caleb [and his wife] Donna if they could get even the smallest amount of help with these upcoming expenses and with anything extra that comes in,” Howe’s page explains.
Erickson promoted the fund on RedState with a short post entitled, “Please Consider Helping Caleb Howe’s Family.” And the left-leaning Daily Kos also picked up the story, encouraging its readers to help, too. “Allow me to ask you to do the Christian thing and donate to this young man’s fund,” DailyKos user SemDem writes. “He has two young, beautiful and innocent daughters who need him — and that is who the fund is for. He does not deserve to suffer, much less die.”
The appeals worked. As of press time, Howe’s fund had been shared over a thousand times, and ultimately topped its $25,000 goal.
Unfortunately, Howe isn’t alone. In recent years, the sky-high cost of medical bills has forced an increasing number of Americans to turn to online crowd funding to raise the money they need to safeguard their health. Last year, “Medical, Illness & Healing” was GoFundMe’s most popular category — and its users raised over $6 million dollars to help people cover their health costs in 2012 alone.
Fortunately, the generosity of strangers has contributed to a few other success stories like Howe’s. After a young man who lost both his legs in the Boston bombing started a crowd funding site, he raised over half a million dollars for his hospital bills and ongoing treatment. An uninsured victim of the Aurora theater shooting raised hundreds of thousands of dollars online to cover his surgery expenses. But other low-income and uninsured Americans are not always so lucky. Health costs bankrupt one in four American seniors, and Americans who suffer from cancer are especially vulnerable to running out of the money they need to pay their medical bills.