The new law in the state caused an insurer to deny coverage to a woman who is terminally ill.
A woman with a terminal illness has reported that her California insurance company has offered to pay for her assisted suicide after denying her chemotherapy treatment coverage. The patient had previously been told her new chemotherapy drug – recommended by her doctors – would be covered.
However, shortly afterward, California passed a law that made it legal for physicians to administer assisted suicide.
Stephanie Packer received a scleroderma diagnosis. Hers has been deemed a terminal form of the disease. At that time, the California insurance company covering the wife and mother of four said that when her doctors recommended switching chemotherapy drugs, her coverage would pay for it.
Packer explained in a video distributed by The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, that “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.” She added that she had been “going back and forth,” but heard from her insurance company who said, “Yes, we’re going to get it covered, we just have to fix a couple of things.”
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However, the California insurance company changed its mind after the End of Life Option Act was passed.
When that California law went into effect, it meant that terminal patients could receive physician assisted suicide if that was their wish. This law authorizes physicians to determine if a patient’s condition is terminal. At that time, if the patient has a prognosis of six months or less to live, the physician may prescribe a life-ending dose of medication.
Once that bill passed to law, Packer says her insurance company changed its mind. The coverage it had previously offered for the chemotherapy medication was withdrawn. That said, they did say that they would provide coverage for the assisted suicide drug.
The video and Packer’s story with the California insurance company have since been making headlines across the country and other parts of the world.