Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Nearly 35 million Americans know at least one person who died in the last five years because they couldn't afford medical insurance, a new survey said Tuesday.
Gallup said in its poll that total number is 34 million, accounting for 13 percent of U.S. adults. The study is based on reported knowledge of deaths connected to someone's financial situation.
The survey found non-whites, lower-income households, those under 45 and political independents and Democrats were all more likely to link an acquaintance's death to their inability to afford health coverage.
"It's outrageous in the United States that so many people have lost a family member or friend simply because the cost of healthcare is so high," Tim Lash, chief strategy officer for West Health, said in a statement.
"It is a tragic statement on the state of healthcare in America. How many more Americans must die before elected officials and policymakers take bold action to rein in runaway costs? The time for smart reform is now."
Asked if they hadn't been able to pay for care over the past 12 months, nearly a quarter (23 percent) of respondents answered yes -- an increase of 4 percent from the last poll in January.
Some critics of the Affordable Care Act say premiums are too expensive for many Americans who are forced to choose between medical care and other basic necessities.