Monday, January 23, 2017

Study: Legalizing euthanasia saves money.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) published a study by Aaron J. Trachtenberg MD DPhil, Braden Manns MD MSc titled: Cost analysis of medical assistance in dying,

The researchers found that the Canadian healthcare system will save between 34.7 and 138.8 million dollars per year, depending on the number of euthanasia deaths. Canada has a universal healthcare system, whereby the financial cost for healthcare is primarily covered by the government.

The cost savings were assessed based on a Netherlands study estimating the number of weeks that lives were shortening by euthanasia, multiplied by the average cost of care for a person nearing death, and multiplied by the likely number of euthanasia deaths in Canada. The study also considered the cost of the euthanasia procedure and potential variable costs related to patients using palliative care.

The researchers emphasize that they are not encouraging people to die by euthanasia, but in fact, this type of research creates social pressure for people to die by euthanasia.

First: Associating euthanasia with medical cost savings creates a belief that euthanasia is a social good. People who feel that their life has lost value may now consider it altruistic to "choose" to die by euthanasia.
"I will give back to society by having my life ended and save money."
I fear that the social pressure to save money and provide a greater access to organs for donation will become the ultimate form of social responsibility.

Second: Associating euthanasia with medical savings creates pressure on people who choose to live until they die. 
"How dare you choose to live. You are costing society money."
By promoting the concept that euthanasia saves money coupled with the media stories and TV shows, such as Mary Kills People, creates a new powerful social pressure to die.

Last weekend I was invited to speak to a group in a small Ontario community. After my presentation a man told me that he supported euthanasia based on his experience with his mother-in-law who lived the last few months of her life, after having a stroke, lacking awareness. He asked me, what was the purpose for her life? He then said: how much did her care cost the government?

I responded by saying:
I guess euthanasia is not about "choice" or "autonomy," she was unable to choose, but rather killing people at the most vulnerable time of life.
During Canada's euthanasia debate very few people were speaking about the fact that Canada's health care system is facing a financial crunch. The reality is that killing people is cheaper than caring for them.

The authors of this study suggest that the financial savings gained from premature deaths by euthanasia could be re-invested into palliative care. 

The authors of this study are naive. The more that people die prematurely by lethal injection, the less demand will exist for palliative care.

Dead people don't need palliative care.


Unknown said...

Isn't this poor economic science? There is (always) another side to look at. The more people who die by euthanasia, the less income tax monies will be collected, for one thing. Fewer people needing nursing home or palliative care, or even in-home care, will mean significant job losses in that sector of healthcare, again less tax collected from these unemployed healthcare workers, and probably government support while they try to find another job or retrain. Where is the saving in reality?

Alex, you know I say this with some sarcasm. Perhaps someone could tell me whether my economic logic is reasonable or not.

Doug Matthews said...

There seems to be a real contradiction when it comes to the economics of dying. We see no problem about spending millions of dollars to extend life through organ transplants and cancer drugs/treatment. We see no problem about spending millions on trying to stop the drug overdose epidemic. We see no problem in doing everything possible to prevent "normal suicide" (e.g. jumping from bridges, shooting ourselves, etc), Where is the logic in this? I wonder if there have been any interviews of cancer survivors, transplant recipients, drug overdose survivors and their families about THEIR opinions on assisted suicide? I would guess they may have some pretty strong feelings against it. We certainly know that disabled folks are mainly against it.

No doubt this topic of the economics of assisted suicide will soon become a more open debate, especially as we baby boomers approach our statistical "time expiry date." If and when that debate does come, it should not be about ONLY the economics of assisted suicide, but also about our society's overall approach to extending life in every way I have mentioned. Only then will people begin to see the incredibly poor logic with which this concept has been forced on us.