Bioethics News

Doctor-assisted suicide could save Canada $140 million a year, study suggests

Euthanasia could save the Canadian taxpayer C$139 million a year, health analysts believe.

A study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal by researchers from the University of Calgary estimates that the healthcare savings of assisted dying — approximately $139 million a year — will dwarf the costs associated with helping patients to end their lives.

The study utilises data about euthanasia rates in Belgium and the Netherlands. It multiplies the Netherlands data by current mortality rates for the Canadian population and recent end-of-life cost data. It also considers the direct costs associated with offering medically assisted death, including physician consultations and drug costs.

According to the authors, “as death approaches, health care costs increase dramatically in the final months. Patients who choose medical assistance in dying may forgo this resource-intensive period.”

The authors go to pains to state they aren’t suggesting people be voluntarily euthanized to save money. “Neither patients nor physicians should consider costs when making the very personal decision to request, or provide, this intervention,” they write.

Peter Tanuseputro, a physician-scientist at the Bruyère Research Institute and the Ottawa Hospital, said that this effort to quantify MAID should serve as a reminder that the Canadian health-care system must offer better palliative care, especially at home.

“When we talk about MAID and end-of-life care, I think we need to quickly move on to discuss the need to improve palliative care because the two are very related,” he said. “If we provide good palliative care, I think the consensus out there is that many requests for MAID could be avoided completely.”

The article has already been criticised for proposing an ‘economic incentive’ for patients to be euthanised.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.