Medically Assisted Deaths Could Reduce Health Care Costs

A new study says that medically assisted deaths could result in substantial reduction of health care spending . The study examined Canada's health-care system. It suggested that doctor-assisted death could save the country between $34.7 million and $136.8 million.

The finding was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal this week. The savings exceedingly outweigh the estimated $1.5 to $14.8 million that will be spent to implement medically assisted dying. The recent legalization of medical assistance in dying has meant that Canada and other countries should modify health systems to adapt to provide this service.

"We are not suggesting medical assistance in dying as a measure to cut costs," Drs. Aaron Trachtenberg and Braden Manns from the University of Calgary writes. He stresses that "neither patients nor physicians should consider costs" when it comes to making the personal decision of undergoing medically-assisted deaths, the CBC News  says.

Health care costs drastically rise as near death patients take a greater slice of health care. In Manitoba, data suggest that 20 percent of health care costs are spent on patients who are in the last 6 months of life. They make up only 1 percent of the population.

In their study, the researchers came up with a model that estimated between 1 percent and 4 percent of all deaths would be medically assisted. 80 percent are likely cancer patients of whom 50 percent would be aged 60 to 80 years, the Science Daily  says.

Among these patients, 60 percent are predicted to die one month earlier and 40 percent would die one week earlier than without doctor-assisted dying. In Canada, the service is only available to adults who are 18 years and older, suffering from irreversible medical condition, and whose death is fairly imminent. The limitation of the study is that the cost data of medically assisted deaths were from the province of Ontario, and may not adequately represent all end-of-life spending in Canada.

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