An analysis of 5,329 patients across the U.S. who died from medical aid in the 23 years after Oregon became the first state to legalize assisted suicide and predictably found one demographic dominates the group: well-educated, wealthy people with cancer. 

If they are not in a state that allows it, they have the money to travel and to incur the cost of the drugs needed for voluntary euthanasia, which are not covered by insurance. The results: More than 72 percent of patients who died with medical aid had college experience, more than 95 percent were non-Hispanic whites, and nearly 75 percent had cancer. 

The sexes were evenly represented — 53 percent male, 47 percent female — but physician assisted suicide users naturally skewed much older than the population at large. Nearly 60 percent of the people who died with medical aid were between ages 65 and 84. Another 16 percent were 85 years old or older, while 8 percent were 54 years old or younger.

Medical aid in dying (MAID) is permitted by 8 states and Washington, D.C., but the federal Medicare program, which is the primary insurer of Americans 65 years old and older, doesn’t pay any costs associated with it, and those costs are considerable. States that allow it typically require two doctors to certify the patient will die within six months. The medications are also not covered by insurance.

Then there is finding a doctor who will provide the service. Like any procedure that involves termination of care, it is in defiance of American culture to not fight for each life from first breath to last. European culture makes it more acceptable, sometimes even stopping treatment for patients and going into palliative mode. That's another way richer people with a larger network have an advantage.

The overwhelming majority — 90 percent — chose to die at home, and nearly as many — 88 percent — told their families of their plans.