Insurer offers to pay for assisted suicide but not chemotherapy

State law gives incentive to insurance companies to pay for assisted suicide

Insurance News

By Allie Sanchez

A California woman recently put her insurance provider under the spotlight, alleging that the company offered to pay for assisted suicide, but not chemotherapy.

Stephanie Packer, who was diagnosed with a terminal illness, said the company denied her coverage for her treatments but offered to pay for physician assisted suicide after California passed a law allowing the measure in June.

Initially, she said, the company indicated that it would pay for alternative treatments that would take a less devastating toll on her health.

“For a while, five months or so, we’ve been trying to get me on a different chemotherapy drug for the infusions, because my doctor felt that it would be less toxic than some of the other drugs that we were going to be using,” Packer related in a video circulated by The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network.

“And I was going back and forth, and finally I heard back from them, and they said, ‘Yes, we’re going to get it covered, we just have to fix a couple of things,’” she added.

Shortly after, however, California passed the End of Life Option Act, which allows doctors to prescribe life ending drugs to patients who suffer from terminal illness and have a prognosis of six months or less to live. Packer said her insurance firm then told her they would pay for the option.

“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,” Packer related.

Her doctors appealed the decision twice, but to no avail. She said the specter of suicide hangs above her as the law gives insurance firms incentive to pay for assisted suicide.

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