New study shows staggering consequences of for-profit healthcare system and Americans’ inability to pay for treatment

34 million adults know someone who died after not getting the necessary treatment because of affordability.


Americans can feel the consequences of the for-profit healthcare system and they can be fatal. A new study published on Tuesday by Gallup and West Health, a non-profit organization, concluded that 34 million people in the United States know of someone who died because they couldn’t afford treatment for their illness.

This is both “heartbreaking and unsurprising,” Melinda St. Louis, director of Public Citizen’s Medicare for All campaign, said.

“If everyone in the country who has received a shocking bill for healthcare were to rise up, we would get Medicare for All,” St. Louis said. “The good news is, the movement is growing and you can join it.”

According to the study, which surveyed 1,099 U.S. adults from all 50 states, it determined that 13 percent of American adults of know of “at least one friend or family member in the past five years who died after not receiving needed medical treatment because they were unable to pay for it.” The study went on to conclude that nonwhites, Americans in lower-income households, people younger than 45, and political independents and Democrats were “more likely to know someone who has died under these circumstances.” Those making less than $40,000 a year were twice as likely to know someone who died because of the inability to pay for treatment than people making over $100,000 per year.

“In the United States, we treat basic healthcare as a privilege based on your wealth, employment status, or zip code,” St. Louis said. “These tragic consequences of our for-profit healthcare system are why a majority of Americans support Medicare for All, where everyone would have guaranteed access to the healthcare they need.”

The study, which was conducted September 16-30 of this year, also determined that many have experience medication insecurity concluding that Americans are paying too much for prescription drugs. Nearly 58 million adults reported the inability to “pay for needed medicine or drugs that a doctor prescribed” in the past year representing 22.9 percent of Americans. Medication insecurity was higher among women and Democrats, according to the study.

“The substantial number of Americans who know someone who has died after not receiving treatment because of their inability to pay for it, coupled with the rise in the percentage who have not had enough money to pay for their prescriptions, underscores the urgency of the U.S. healthcare cost crisis.”

While these realities question the effects of the American healthcare system, Congress is trying to pass bills that would lower soaring prescription drug prices. The House will soon vote on a bill that would allow the federal government to negotiate drug prices within the industry, while the Senate is looking at passing a bill to “cap seniors’ out-of-pocket costs and require drug manufacturers to reimburse Medicare if prices rise more than the inflation rate,” according to the study.


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