In states where assisted suicide is legal, some insurance companies are denying patient claims for expensive, life-saving medical treatments and offering cheaper payments for assisted suicide instead.
Fatal Consequences of Denied Claims
According to a physician in Nevada, insurance companies that operate in states with legal assisted suicide laws are denying medical claims for patients and offering cheaper assisted suicide options. Although these are life-saving treatments for many patients, insurance companies are focused on cheaper treatments that save the company money with no regard for patients’ care or well-being.
The physician, Dr. Brian Callister, said that his affected patients were not terminally ill, but would become terminal if medical treatments were denied. In February 2017, Washington joined with Oregon, Vermont, Colorado, and California to enact a law that legalizes assisted suicide. Currently, more than a dozen states, including Nevada, are actively considering legislation that makes physician-assisted suicide legal. In Oregon in 2008, a woman was denied a lung cancer drug by her state’s Medicaid program. Her Oregon health provider offered to replace the $4000 per month cancer drugs with assisted suicide drugs that would cost $50. In many states, attorneys for insurance claims often see claim denials that have negative impacts on patient treatments and healthcare.
Claim Denials are Common
Many Americans face claim denials needed for medical treatments every year. Patients with chronic illnesses and existing conditions are especially vulnerable to denied claims. According to data from the U.S. Government Accounting Office, up to 40 percent of insurance companies deny payments for patient healthcare claims. One in four people, at least 24 percent, are denied coverage for prescribed medical treatments each year in the United States. In 70 percent of those denied claims, treatment is for a patient with a serious illness, and in 43 percent of denied claims, patients are in poor health which often gets worse without medical treatment. Over 30 percent of patients reported that they were forced to delay or do without necessary medical treatments due to denied claims.
Many patients who had claims approved by their insurance companies report that their medical condition got worse while they waited at least a month or more for claim approval. Some patients reported that they waited three to four months on claim approvals, because of required medical evidence and internal paperwork that slowed down the claim process significantly.