Would Financial Motivations Encourage Insurance Companies and Health Care Providers to Promote Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide?



PRO (yes)

Helena Berger, President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities, in a Dec. 17, 2017 article, "Assisted Suicide Laws Are Creating a 'Duty-to-Die' Medical Culture," available at thehill.com, stated:

"[I]n this profit-driven economic climate, is it realistic to expect that insurers are going to do the right thing, or the cheap thing? If insurers deny, or even delay, approval of costlier life-saving alternatives, then money saving but fatal measures become the deadly default.

The truth is that assisted suicide as public policy is rife with dangerous loopholes and consequences, especially for the vulnerable in our society. We should reject laws that legalize the practice."

Dec. 17, 2017 - Helena Berger 



The New York State Department of Health in their Apr. 2011 report "When Death Is Sought," available on www.health.ny.gov, stated:

"Under any new system of health care delivery, as at present, it will be far less costly to give a lethal injection than to care for a patient throughout the dying process.

The current debate about medical futility reflects, in part, the extent to which the cost of treatment is viewed as relevant to decisions at the bedside. Some physicians have argued that they should determine when the benefits of treatment are too low to justify the cost in order to allocate health care resources. To date, the futility debate has focused on certain aggressive treatments, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or on continued treatment for certain patients, such as those who are permanently unconscious. But once a decision is made not to pursue cure or treatment, and assisted suicide and euthanasia are available, the economic logic will be inescapable. The care provided to dying or very ill patients, not just their treatment, is expensive and demanding for health care professionals. The extra weeks or months of caring for patients who do not opt for assisted suicide or euthanasia will seem all the more 'futile' and costly."

Apr. 2011 - New York State Department of Health 



Rita Marker, JD, Executive Director, and Kathi Hamlon, Policy Analyst, both of the of the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, wrote in a Jan. 2010 article titled "Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Frequently Asked Questions" on InternationalTaskForce.org:

"Perhaps one of the most important developments in recent years is the increasing emphasis placed on health care providers to contain costs. In such a climate, euthanasia or assisted suicide certainly could become a means of cost containment...

Savings to governments could become a consideration. Drugs for assisted suicide cost about $75 to $100, making them far less expensive than providing medical care. This could fill the void from cutbacks for treatment and care with the 'treatment' of death...

Legalized euthanasia or assisted suicide raises the potential for a profoundly dangerous situation in which the 'choice' of assisted suicide or euthanasia is the only affordable option for some people."

Jan. 2010 - Kathi Hamlon 
Rita Marker, JD 



Paul B. Young, MD, MA, pediatrician in Wisconsin, stated the following in his Apr. 8, 2008 testimony for Wisconsin Right to Life, "Against Physician Assisted Suicide," available at www.wrtl.org:

"The single greatest pressure on healthcare today is financial. As we seek to grapple with the staggering costs of healthcare, we need to avoid undermining the very ethical principles that promote good patient care. If we allow physician assisted suicide, we may find out that we have effectively limited our approach to the palliation of chronic illness. Unfortunately, it is cheaper to help a patient to die than to provide good end of life care. Physician assisted suicide could encourage a patient to die as a 'duty' to his or her family, in the face of financial pressure. Likewise doctors could find their end of life care options curtailed by third party payers, or offered economic incentive to allow a suicide. As society ages, this could become a national tragedy."

Apr. 8, 2008 - Paul B. Young, MD, MA 



Porter County Right to Life wrote on their 2006 "Euthanasia" page, available at www.pcrtl.org/euthanasia:

"With the increasing emphasis placed on health care providers to contain costs, euthanasia could certainly become a means of cost containment.

In the U.S., thousands of people have no medical insurance; studies have shown that the poor and minorities are not given access to available pain control, and managed-care facilities are offering physicians cash bonuses if they don’t provide care for patients.

With greater and greater emphasis being placed on managed care, many doctors are at financial risk when they provide treatment for their patients.

Legalized euthanasia raises the potential for a profoundly dangerous situation in which doctors could find themselves far better off financially if a seriously ill or disabled person 'chooses' to die rather than receive long-term care.

Savings to the government may also become a consideration. This could take place if governments cut back on paying for treatment and care and replace them with the 'treatment' of death."

2006 - Porter County Right to Life 



CON (no)

Compassion and Choices, in a Dec. 2016 pamphlet, "The Facts: Medical Aid in Dying in the United States," available at compassionandchoices.org, stated:

"There is no financial incentive to pressure patients… This myth is further dispelled by the fact that 92 percent of people in Oregon who choose medical aid in dying are enrolled in hospice care and not receiving expensive or intensive treatment. Therefore, there is no financial incentive to encourage people to accelerate their deaths."

Dec. 2016 - Compassion & Choices 



Martin Levin, JD, MPH, MTS, Special Counsel for the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and Senior Counsel for Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor, in his article "Physician-Assisted Suicide: Legality and Morality," available at www.levinlaw.com (accessed Dec. 13, 2012), wrote:

"What is absolutely incredible to me is that someone would honestly argue that we should consider the cost savings to America by killing, or assisting in the suicide, of human beings. It seems almost unfathomable. However, even if we were to consider these figures, the savings only total approximately $10,000 per assisted suicide victim. The total savings of approximately $627 million is less than one percent of the total United States health care expenditures. The reason this figure is so low is because an extremely small percentage of Americans receiving health care would qualify for physician-assisted suicide. We are not talking about the withholding or withdrawing of life-sustaining procedures. This is already legal, and widely utilized. We are talking about allowing a competent adult suffering from an incurable illness with less than six months of life to seek the assistance of a physician in actively ending the patient’s life. This number makes up less than 1/3 of 1% of Americans each year, and those who do qualify, and who choose to die by assisted suicide, generally end their lives approximately three weeks before their natural death would have occurred."

Dec. 13, 2012 - Martin Levin, JD, MPH, MTS 



Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, Chair of the Department of Clinical Bioethics at the Warren G. Magnuson Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, and Margaret Battin, MD, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Adjunct Professor of Internal Medicine, wrote in their July 16, 1998 article titled "What Are the Potential Cost Savings from Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide?," published in the New England Journal of Medicine:

"The estimated cost savings from permitting physician-assisted suicide are lower than many people expect...

People overestimate the number of Americans who die each year. Less than 1 percent of Americans die each year. Of these, many would be unable or ineligible to request a physician's assistance with suicide, even if it were legalized: newborns with serious birth defects, minors, victims of trauma, persons who die suddenly from myocardial infarctions or strokes, and patients with dementia. More important, if Americans were to choose physician-assisted suicide at the same rate as the Dutch choose euthanasia, only 0.027 percent of Americans might choose physician-assisted suicide if it were legalized...

Physician-assisted suicide is not likely to save substantial amounts of money in absolute or relative terms, either for particular institutions or for the nation as a whole."

July 16, 1998 - Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD 



Merrill Matthews, PhD, Director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at the National Center for Policy Analysis, wrote in his article, "Would Physician-Assisted Suicide Save the Healthcare System Money?" that appeared in the 1998 book Physician Assisted Suicide: Expanding the Debate:

"Would Physician-Assisted Suicide Save Money?

The answer to the question seems almost certainly no... The primary reason is that the number of people seeking physician-assisted suicide and being granted that asssistance is extremely small...

Most requests for physician assistance come in the last month, or even the last days of life, which would drastically reduce the actual amount of money saved. For example, in the survey of Dutch physicians, 64 percent said they had shortened a patient's life by less than twenty-four hours, and in 16 percent it was shortened less than a week.

...Even though the various elements that make up the American healthcare system are becoming more circumspect in ensuring that money is not wasted, the cap that marks a zero-sum healthcare system is largely absent in the United States... Considering the way we finance healthcare in the United States, it would be hard to make a case that there is a financial imperative compelling us to adopt physician-assisted suicide in an effort to save money so that others could benefit."


1998 - Merrill Matthews, Jr., PhD 



Laurence Tribe, JD, Professor at Harvard Law School and expert on health law, was quoted in an Apr. 7, 1996 article titled "The Right to Suicide, Some Worry, Could Evolve Into a Duty to Die," published in the New York Times:

"There are far greater economic pressures on patients who must maintain expensive life-sustaining treatment than on those forced to endure painful, drawn-out illnesses where no such therapy is available...and there has been no evidence that people in those situations are being pushed to withdraw treatment because of the high cost."

Apr. 7, 1996 - Laurence Tribe, JD