Issues

Doctor says assisted suicide leading insurance companies to deny treatments

assisted suicide, Dutch, physician-assisted suicide

Brian Callister is a practicing physician and medical school professor with more than 30 years of experience. In his article in the Las Vegas Review Journal, he writes about the dangers of physician assisted suicide.

He complains about the “sugar coated” phrase used by assisted suicide supporters, “physician aid in dying.” Supporters claim they are giving patients another option. In reality, Callister says, doctors and insurance companies have incentives to pressure patients to kill themselves. Callister writes:

When insurers and our government are faced with skyrocketing health care costs, PAS gives them the real and inexpensive alternative to deny you care and provide you with a deadly prescription instead. It’s a lot cheaper to give you a bunch of pills to kill you rather than pay to treat you. Sadly, such real abuses are already being witnessed in states where PAS is legal. Since PAS became legal in California and Oregon, I have experienced firsthand the abuses that PAS incentivizes.

READ: Scientists push assisted suicide for ‘dignity’ of Alzheimer’s patients

He then goes on to describe his experiences:

I cared for two patients in my hospital in Northern Nevada who were seeking transfers to their home states of California and Oregon for lifesaving treatments. With these particular treatment options, both patients had an excellent chance of cure. Without the treatments, both would likely die from their diseases.

When I spoke with the medical directors of the patients’ insurance companies, both of them told me they would cover assisted suicide but would not approve coverage for lifesaving treatment. Neither the patients nor I had requested assisted suicide, yet it was readily offered. Instead of the best treatment options, my patients were offered the cheapest option — a quick death through lethal medications. This was perfectly legal to do in those states but certainly unethical.

In the United States, insurance companies can — and often do — choose to deny coverage for expensive treatments. The assisted suicide “option” allows insurance companies a way to reduce the money they pay out by giving them a cheaper “treatment” to offer patients. And as Callister says, nothing can be done about this — an insurance company turning down an expensive cure and paying only for assisted suicide is legal.

Assisted suicide isn’t just a threat to the disabled and chronically ill, it is a threat to everyone. Anyone can develop a life-threatening disease such as cancer and could be faced with assisted suicide presented to as the sole option. The push to legalize assisted suicide must be fought.

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