Assisted Suicide Laws:
A Cheap Substitute for Care

A woman with light skin sits in a chair. She has a breathing device in her nose and wears a skull cap on her head. She wears black glasses, a teal sweater, and black pants.

Stephanie Packer

“I was stunned that much cheaper lethal drugs would be available to me rather than treatment to save my life,
but fortunately, I eventually received coverage for the treatment I sought.”

When in 2016 Stephanie, 32 and a mother of 4, was diagnosed with scleroderma, the doctor gave her three years to live. When she requested that her insurance company help cover a new treatment for her disease, they denied her request, but upon being asked, reported that they would cover a lethal dose of drugs for a $1.20 copay under California’s assisted suicide law. Since 2016, Stephanie has been in and out of hospice, intermittently qualifying for assisted suicide laws. Assisted suicide laws incentivize insurance companies to offer coverage for the cheaper option— a lethal dose of drugs—rather than more expensive life-saving treatments.

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