“Cost-Savings” Claimed as Euthanasia Benefit in Canada

“Cost-Savings” Claimed as Euthanasia Benefit in Canada October 27, 2020

Canada approved “Medical Aid in Dying” in 2016. This law legalized both assisted suicide and euthanasia. Now, with a possible expansion in the works, some claim that this offers great cost-saving. This claim dates back to the passage but now it is in a government report.

Right now, many US states are passing assisted suicide laws. These are happening quickly and stealthily without large public debate. And once passed, it seems like only a matter of time before insurance companies start denying treatment as taking a handful of pills to kill yourself is cheaper. This is a challenge for those close to death or those with long-term disability.

Saving Millions by Killing People

Euthanasia memorial by Uwe Kunze for those murdered during the Nazi period in the Eichberg state hospital
Euthanasia memorial by Uwe Kunze for those murdered during the Nazi period in the Eichberg state hospital (CC BY-SA 3.0 Marion Halft)

Catholic News Agency posted:

A Canadian report has put a dollar figure on legal assisted suicide, claiming that legalization has saved millions of dollars in health care costs—and that a looming expansion of legal assisted suicide, known by backers as “aid in dying,” would save millions more.

A new Parliamentary Budget Officer report, released Oct. 20, is intended to provide economic and financial analysis of legislation to improve parliamentary debate and promote “greater budget transparency and accountability.” […]

The report acknowledged the “disproportionately high” health care costs to care for people in their last year of life, especially in their last month. Such patients represent 1% of the population and 10% to 20% of total health care costs.

Access to medically assisted suicide, the report said, reduces health care costs for Canada’s provincial governments, the primary health care providers. […] The report’s financial analysis predicted an estimated 6,465 assisted suicide deaths in 2021 under the current law, with over $66.14 million in U.S. dollars saved in provincial health budgets due to these deaths. The number of dollars saved is reached by subtracting the costs of palliative care, about $55.4 million, from mean end-of-life costs of about $138.6 million, and then subtracting $17 million in costs to administer that number of assisted suicides.

The new legislation to expand access to assisted suicide will result in another 1,164 assisted suicide deaths in Canada in 2021, the report predicted, with an estimated $46.8 million in health care costs saved. This would increase total estimated savings to some $113.4 million, compared to a situation in which assisted suicide was illegal, the Parliamentary Budget Officer report said.

Assisted Suicide OR Euthanasia

This report is good except on one point: it accepts the proponents’ language of “assisted suicide.” Although the law allows both, a 2017 government report noted 99.95% were euthanasia. (Only 1 assisted suicide out of 1961 “medically aided” deaths.)

Elements January 1 – June 30, 2017 July 1 to December 31, 2017
Total number of medically assisted deaths 875 1086
Number of clinician-administered deaths 874 1086
Number of self-administered deaths 1 0

Supporters want to mention assisted suicide as it seems less problematic when a person administers a lethal dose themselves rather than agreeing to have a doctor kill them.

Back in 2018, a professor already noted the issue of cost when dealing with a case where a disabled man was pressured towards “medical aid in dying.”

Tim Stainton, a professor at University of British Columbia’s School of Social Work… says the recordings highlight issues that are “of great concern among many in the disability community with regards to MAID,” including the fear that assisted death will become “a cheaper option to providing quality community supports.”

The Illusion of Free Choice

In many countries euthanasia or assisted suicide is pushed as means for those of completely sound minds who are dying to end their suffering early. But so many reports of people being pushed to it so not fully free bring that into question. A few examples:

  • The case Dr. Stainto is commenting on above, where a disabled man in Canada had to make secret recordings of being pushed towards killing himself by medical staff.
  • In 2018, a major Canadian magazine pointed out that assisted death was the only option really given to some patients.
  • Also in 2018, the UK government ruled that those in a permanent vegetative state (no immediate danger of death) could be denied food and water if the doctors and their family agreed.
  • In Belgium, doctors have euthanized minors since 2014. It is unclear if these minors gave any consent or their parents just wanted them dead.
  • In 2016, a report indicated 37/110 of Dutch patients euthanized for psychological conditions in one period had refused treatment that could have likely helped them recover instead of killing themselves.
  • In Belgium, being distraught after a romantic breakup was sufficient for doctors to authorize euthanasia. (This is one of the few cases doctors were later prosecuted for, but they were acquitted nonetheless.)
  • Even as far back as 2011, the NIH pointed out that supposed safeguards against euthanasia abuse in Europe were failing to protect the vulnerable. The Charlotte Lozier Institute pointed out similar issues in 2018 with Oregon’s assisted suicide law, noting that the wide array of loopholes and lax reporting makes it impossible to see abuse were it happening.

Lives Are more Valuable than Money

Jesus said, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) I think we can apply the same to money: Money was made for man, not man for money. Obviously, in some cases, the burden of excessive medical costs can make a treatment extraordinary / disproportionate, and thus someone can say no to it. However, there is a big difference between not undergoing some expensive uncertain treatment that might extend your life and a doctor injecting drugs to kill you. Also, in the USA, most rely on insurance and the point of insurance is that you are later covered if some expensive procedure should be done to save your life. Both euthanasia and assisted suicide should always be illegal as they are completely incompatible with human dignity.

Pope Francis talked about how we do evil “with white gloves” regarding abortion but this also applies to euthanasia. We need to respect all life and should not kill off the elderly or disabled with such practices. Allowing euthanasia implies doing evil with white gloves.

Let’s pray and work to keep these practices illegal in most US states. If we don’t, I can almost guarantee people will be pushed towards them by insurance companies trying to save money.

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