Medical aid in dying has been a controversial topic in the United States for decades. Many contentious issues have arisen with the recent enactment of various state medical aid in dying statutes. Are physicians violating their Hippocratic Oath to patients when prescribing lethal medications? Do insurance coverage limitations inappropriately steer patients toward medical aid in dying? Are terminally ill patients unduly influenced into prematurely ending their lives? Whether or not one agrees with these laws, there is an obvious need for certain protections in place to safeguard vulnerable patients from undue influence in states where medical aid in dying is legal.
This Note examines the history of medical aid in dying statutes and identifies the safeguards currently in place to protect patients from undue influence and coercion. While there are specific guidelines as to who may qualify for medical aid in dying, there have been instances of insurance companies denying patients coverage for life-prolonging treatment prescribed by their physicians but covering the costs of a medically assisted death. This Note argues that medical aid in dying statutes must regulate insurance companies in such a way that insurance payments for non-experimental treatments prescribed by one’s physician may not be denied to any person who qualifies under an existing medical aid in dying statute. Terminally ill patients deserve protection from undue influence and coercion, especially by their insurance providers.
Mary C. Deneen, BIOETHICS—“WHO DO THEY THINK THEY ARE?”: PROTECTING TERMINALLY ILL PATIENTS AGAINST UNDUE INFLUENCE BY INSURERS IN STATES WHERE MEDICAL AID IN DYING IS LEGAL, 42 W. New Eng. L. Rev. 63 (2020), https://digitalcommons.law.wne.edu/lawreview/vol42/iss1/4