Insurers use California’s assisted-suicide law to deny treatment for terminal patients

About one-year ago, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the state’s assisted-suicide bill into law. It fully went into effect this June, with the opening of the first clinic. While there is no data on the number of California assisted-suicides, Oregon recorded over 130 last year as part of their legalized physician-assisted death program.

Now, one young mother says her insurance company denied her coverage for chemotherapy treatment after originally agreeing to provide the fiscal support for it, but indicated it would bewilling to pay for assisted suicide instead.

Stephanie Packer, a wife and mother of four who was diagnosed with a terminal form of scleroderma, said her insurance company initially indicated it would pay for her to switch to a different chemotherapy drug at the recommendation of her doctors.

…But shortly after California’s End of Life Option Act, which authorizes physicians to diagnose a life-ending dose of medication to patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live, went into effect, Ms. Packer’s insurance company had a change of heart.

“And when the law was passed, it was a week later I received a letter in the mail saying they were going to deny coverage for the chemotherapy that we were asking for,” Ms. Packer said.

She said she called her insurance company to find out why her coverage had been denied. On the call, she also asked whether suicide pills were covered under her plan.

“And she says, ‘Yes, we do provide that to our patients, and you would only have to pay $1.20 for the medication,’” Ms. Packer said.

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