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34 million Americans know people who have died because they could not afford needed health care

Written by Diane Archer

A new Gallup poll finds that 34 million Americans have friends or family members who have died in the last five years because they could not afford needed medical treatment. That’s more than one in ten (11 percent) of Americans.

The question Gallup posed to more than 1,000 adults in the US is: “Has there been a time in the last five years when a friend or family member passed away after not receiving treatment for their condition due to their inability to pay for it?” To be clear, the findings are not intended to suggest that 34 million people died as a result of not being able to afford health care. The findings reflect only the number of people who say they know someone who died because of lack of health care. In total, fewer than three million people die each year.

At the same time, more and more people say that they cannot pay for the medicines that their doctors have prescribed. Less than a year ago, nearly 19 percent of Americans reported the inability to pay for needed prescription drugs. In September, three percent more Americans, 22.9 percent, reported the inability to pay for needed medicines.

Medication insecurity now affects 58 million Americans, people who could not afford to pay for at least one needed prescription drug in the last 12 months. Women face greater difficulty affording their prescription drugs than men, 27.5 percent v. 18.1 percent. Of note, Republicans appear to face less medication insecurity than Democrats, 23.1 v. 27.7 percent.

The vast majority of Americans agree that prescription drug costs are higher than what we should be paying and nearly seven in ten say that they are usually much higher than what we should be paying. Only one in 100 Americans say that prescription drugs are priced lower than appropriate.

Shockingly, not even one in three Republicans say that President Trump is not making much progress on prescription drug costs. Almost all Democrats (96 percent) say that President Trump is not making much progress on drug costs. As shockingly, many more Democrats say they know someone who has died as a result of unaffordable medical care than Republicans, 14.8 percent v. 4.9 percent.

The House of Representatives will vote shortly on Speaker Pelosi’s plan to bring down prescription drug prices, relying on what five other wealthy countries pay for their drugs as a benchmark. The Senate also has a proposal to help older adults with their drug costs, though it will not help Americans nearly as much as the House bill.

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