Human Exceptionalism

Euthanasia and Health Care Rationing in Europe

This thoughtful commentary, published in the Brussels Journal, worries that Europeans, which have a form of health care rationing already in place to keep public health programs afloat, may turn to euthanasia as a form of controlling costs. Here is the key quote:

“In Europe there are medical treatments, operations or drugs which are not available to persons above a certain age, or to persons who are considered too sick, or to anyone at all. Political authorities, claiming to be the guardians of solidarity in society, decide who is allowed to get what kind of treatment, operation or drug. Soon euthanasia might be the price the solidarity principle of the welfare state imposes on those people whose health care is costing society the most. Politicians in Belgium and the Netherlands have already granted their citizens a “right to die” by means of a lethal (and cheap) euthanasia injection. Is this a new “freedom” that the state, which is constantly restricting every other aspect of our lives, generously bestows on us? Or does it boil down to “economic euthanasia,” which enables governments to save money by eliminating those that cost the welfare state too much?” (My emphasis.)

Such predictions do not warrant our becoming smug. We are experiencing some of the same problems with managed care. The Bioethics Movement is hot to impose health care rationing. If assisted suicide/euthanasia is ever legalized widely here in the U.S., it too could quickly become about money.

Think about it: The drugs for killing cost less than $100. It might cost $100,000 to give patients proper care so they don’t want euthanasia. As I noted in Forced Exit, if the same percentage of Americans die by euthanasia,as are (under) reported in the Netherlands, it would amount to about 175,000 euthanasia deaths each year. Many of these would be the most expensive patients to care for. This is one reason I have often asserted that I that if assisted suicide/euthanasia is ever legalized here, Wall Street investors in for-profit HMOs will be dancing in the streets.

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