“When Mary Lou Retton, the decorated Olympic gymnast, accrued medical debt from a lengthy hospital stay, her family did what countless Americans have done before them: turned to crowdfunding to cover the bills,” Sarah Kliff writes over at The New York Times. “On Tuesday, Ms. Retton’s daughter started a fund-raising campaign on social media for her mother, who she said was hospitalized with a rare pneumonia. ‘We ask that if you could help in any way, that 1) you PRAY! and 2) if you could help us with finances for the hospital bill,’ McKenna Kelley, Ms. Retton’s daughter, wrote in a post on Spotfund, a crowdfunding platform similar to GoFundMe. The public swiftly responded, with thousands donating $350,000 in less than two days, shattering the goal of $50,000. … Each year, a quarter of a million Americans start crowdfunding campaigns to pay medical bills. The Spotfund post for Ms. Retton, 55, did not share many details about her costs but noted that she did not have health insurance…. Unlike Ms. Retton, most patients do not meet their fund-raising goals. About 16 percent of the time, studies have found, crowdfunding campaigns generate no donations at all. About half of Americans report difficulty paying their medical bills, according to a 2022 Kaiser Family Foundation survey. The problem tends to be particularly acute among the 27.5 million Americans who do not have health insurance. … Last year, Nora Kenworthy, an associate professor at the University of Washington Bothell, published the largest study to date of medical crowdfunding, which analyzed nearly a half-million GoFundMe campaigns. Her work showed that the typical fund-raiser generates about $1,970, falling far short of the $5,000 to $10,000 patients are typically seeking. The most successful campaign in her data set raised $2.4 million, but such high numbers were rare. Fewer than 12 percent of campaigns met their goals.” Sarah Kliff, “Mary Lou Retton crowdfunds her medical bills,” The New York Times.