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More than 13% of American adults know of at least one friend or family member who died over the past five years because they couldn’t pay for medical treatment. That rises to 20% for people of color.
That’s according to a national survey by Gallup and nonprofit West Health.
“Median household income hasn’t moved much,” said Dan Witters, research director of the Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index. Witters said that close to a third of U.S. adults can’t cover a $500 medical bill. “All it takes is one event and they’re in trouble.”
The number of people who couldn’t afford their medications spiked this year, Witters said.
That’s true even for people with insurance, said Sabrina Corlette, research professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms, because insurers are requiring consumers to shoulder more of the rising cost of drugs; sometimes amounting to hundreds of dollars a month.
“I think for many people they just decide to forgo it, or they skip prescriptions or do whatever they can,” Corlette explained.
Congress is considering bills to control or cap drug prices. 85% of people surveyed by Gallup are in favor of legislation lowering drug prices at the expense of pharmaceutical industry profits.
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