Millions of Americans knew someone who died because they could not afford the care they needed, according to a new Gallup poll.
About 13% of people — 34 million Americans — had a friend or family member had died in the last five years because they did not receive needed medical treatment or medication due to inability to pay. Low-income people of color and under age 45 were most likely to report knowing of such a death, according to the report released Tuesday by Gallup and West Health, a nonprofit organization that works to lower health care costs for seniors.
The findings do not represent the number of people who died because they couldn’t pay for treatment — a total of 2.8 million people died of any cause in the United States in 2017. But the report is a window into how significantly health-care costs are affecting the decisions Americans make about their care, and the ripple effects those choices have through the population.
Gallup and West Health also found a rise in the number of people who report they couldn’t afford needed prescription drugs.
Just under 23% of adults (about 58 million people) were unable to pay for a medication their doctor prescribed at least once in the past 12 months. That’s up from about 19% who reported “medication insecurity” in January.
The report was based on a survey of 1,099 adults in every state and Washington, D.C., between Sept. 16 and 30.
Did someone close to you die because they couldn’t afford care? If you have a story to tell — and are willing to share names and medical specifics — the Inquirer wants to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the Google form below.