Doctor Says Insurance Companies Declined to Pay for Patients’ Treatments, But Offered Assisted Suicide Coverage

RENO, Nev. — A doctor in Nevada says that insurance companies have now twice declined to pay for patients’ life-saving treatments, but offered to cover assisted suicide.

Dr. Brian Callister, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Nevada, shared his story in a recently-released video produced by the Patients Rights Action Fund. He explained that he sought to transfer two patients out to obtain procedures that are not provided at his hospital.

On both occasions, the two separate insurance companies declined coverage. As the desired transfer locations were in states where assisted suicide is legal, the representatives presented the option.

“I had two different patients and both needed life-saving procedures,” he explained. “When requesting a transfer to a center in their home states—one’s in California, one’s in Oregon—the insurance medical directors I spoke with said they would not cover the life-saving procedure that we requested, but [said], ‘Hey, by the way, have you considered assisted suicide?'”

Callister said that the suggestion of death over treatment stunned him.

“This is something we didn’t talk about, we didn’t request, we didn’t ask for,” he stated.

The physician further explained to the Washington Times that neither patient was considered terminal, but would have died without the needed treatment.

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“It was estimated that their chance for cure—cure, not just adding time—of about 50 percent in one case and 70 percent in the other case,” Callister said.

He said that insurance companies are finding it cheaper to provide fatal medicine rather than cover ongoing treatment.

“As much as most insurance companies try to come across as your best friend—they want to do whatever the least costly thing is—it’s a lot cheaper to grab a couple drugs to kill you than it is to provide you life-sustaining therapy,” Callister lamented in the video.

As previously reported, Stephanie Packer, a California mother of four who has been diagnosed with terminal scleroderma, shared a similar experience. She explained in a recording released last October that after California legalized assisted suicide, her insurance company declined to pay for her new chemotherapy medicine, but said suicide pills would be covered.

“[W]hen the law was passed, it was a week later I received a letter in the mail saying they were going to deny coverage for the chemotherapy that we were asking for,” she explained.

So Packer called to ask why.

“And they kind of gave me this roundabout story, and I wasn’t really getting clear answers,” she recalled. “So, I said, ‘Well, what about the drugs they are using for the new [assisted suicide] law? … Would you cover that for me?’”

“And she says, ‘Yes, we do provide that to our patients, and you would only have to pay $1.20 for the medication,’” Packer recalled. “And it was just like someone hit me in the gut.”

Packer too expressed concern that if assisted suicide continues to be legalized in states throughout the nation, insurance companies will suggest the option in order to save money.

“[W]hen these laws are passed, patients fighting for a longer life end up getting denied treatment, because this will always be the cheapest option,” she lamented.

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  • Trilemma

    The full name of Obamacare is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. What happened to the Patient Protection part?

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    People and companies should never seek blood money. Both doctors and insurance companies should live to preserve human life, never the opposite. That’s a normal society with a functioning conscience. If a man digs soil, he never starves. Planet Earth is full of good things and good food for maintaining life.

  • Pipkin

    Well, surprise, surprise!

    We may find out that Soylent Green was reality, not fiction.

  • michael louwe

    Most insurance companies like to break God’s laws, ie “You shall not steal” and “You shall not murder.”

    Buying insurance is similar to buying lotteries or gambling. The former is motivated by fear and the latter is motivated by greed = both are sins/evil-deeds/law-breaking.

    PROVERBS.1: =

    26 I also will laugh at your calamity;
    I will mock when your terror comes,
    27 When your terror comes like a storm,
    And your destruction comes like a whirlwind,
    When distress and anguish come upon you.

    28 “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
    They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.
    29 Because they hated knowledge
    And did not choose the fear of the Lord,
    30 They would have none of my counsel
    And despised my every rebuke.
    31 Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way,
    And be filled to the full with their own fancies.
    32 For the turning away of the simple will slay them,
    And the complacency of fools will destroy them;
    33 But whoever listens to me will dwell safely,
    And will be secure, without fear of evil.”

  • james blue

    Insurance companies deny payment for treatment even if they do not offer coverage for assisted suicide.

  • Blake Paine

    We don’t know what treatment was asked for. Is it one of the several experimental scleroderma treatments that aren’t yet FDA approved? Difficulty in getting private insurance companies to pay for cutting edge medications and treatments is not a new problem.

    And the insurance company didn’t ‘offer’ to provide assisted suicide medication, the doctor asked about it. There is nothing cutting edge about the medications there, of course they would reply they would like they would if he’d asked about toe fungus cream.

    The problem is for-profit medical insurance where the bottom line is more important than the patient. There is no patient benefit from the insurance company taking premiums and paying paying stock dividends or huge CEO salaries out of that.

    • james blue

      The people who write the headlines know many do not read past that.

      You are correct, the insurance company didn’t “offer” or “push” assisted suicide as an alternative, they simply replied to a inquiry.

      You are also correct about for profit insurance “bottom line”. THAT is the issue with the cases in the article, not assisted suicide.

  • ZappaSaid88

    If the folks the doctor was trying to transfer were going to non-Death with Dignity states the insurance companies would probably still deny the treatment and that would be the end of it.

    • james blue

      Exactly. The insurance company didn’t “offer” or “push” assisted suicide as an alternative, they simply replied to an inquiry.

      They denied payment because that’s what insurance does.

      • Blake Paine

        watch out. I posted the same thing and the message was removed.

        • james blue

          As was my reply to that.

      • Blake Paine

        From Dr. Callister’s written statement submitted to the Nevada legislature:

        When I spoke with the insurance medical directors of the patients’ insurance companies by telephone on separate occasions, both of the insurance medical directors told me that they would approve coverage for either hospice care or assisted suicide but would not approve the life saving treatment option.

        So they did volunteer the two options and it seems that his objection is now that he has been presented with the options he is obligated to offer them to the patients he was inquiring for:

        Neither the patients nor I had requested approval for assisted suicide, yet it was readily offered.… The unsolicited offer of coverage for assisted suicide not only adds to the stress and confusion for patients and families, but I believe it is simply unethical.

        If this had happened in a state without assisted suicide they would have just offered hospice care alone.

        So a doctor that doesn’t approve of assisted suicide is now in the position of ethically having to tell their patients it is an option if they go to the states that offer it.

        I can see the side of the insurance company telling the inquirer all the non-treatment end-of-life options they will offer, I can see the doctor being uncomfortable with having to relay all of those options to their patients.

  • Bradley Williams

    I cared for my wife as she lost autonomy during her last 18 months. I learned that you can work on 4 hours sleep. The corporate promoters, K Tucker, of assisted suicide now sell with feelings of fear of losing autonomy flying in the face of those living every day with loss of autonomy. This is why the secular left disability rights community is leading the resistance. They and libertarians know these laws do not assure individual choice. The law allows that one could be diagnosed and dead in 15 days with immunity for a predatory heir/new friend, all before the family knows.
    They used the concept of self-administration to sell the euthanasia policy, then omitted an ordinary witness to the administration which renders flaunted safeguards hollow. Likely 20% are forced euthanasia.
    The medical standard of care established by the non transparent OR/WA euthanasia policy is an application of poison for anyone with feelings of concern about losing autonomy. This is documented by the OR/WA state reports. Now they propose 1 day turn around from diagnosis to death by poison in Hawaii.
    That is the low bar of standard of care the corporate promoters of euthanasia want to establish for us all. That will put us all (all ages) at risk of exploitation by the medical industrial complex, human trafficking, predatory corporations, covert organ traffickers, predatory heirs and “new best friends” like Oregon’s Thomas Middleton killers via the Oregon policy. This public policy is neither reasonable nor prudent rather it is insidious at best.
    Bradley Williams
    President MTaas org

  • Dianne

    Assisted suicide is from hell and we need the names of the insurance companies so that complaints and boycotts can begin in mass numbers.

    1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
    If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

  • Robinske2

    Now it has become clear why the Democrat party has been pushing “assisted suicide for decades.
    If a person really wanted to kill themselves- there are a lot o ways to do it, but Dems had a party plank for the State to have laws “allowing Doctors” to help end lives. Obviously the Democrat party was being paid by the Insurance companies to get these laws passed so older people that get sick can be eliminated. Think of the savings, not only insurance, but social security, medicare, and other government benefits for the elderly as well.