Life and death changes in New Zealand
Death | Hospitals and insurance carriers prepare for “assisted deaths”
by Leah Hickman
Posted 11/09/20, 05:40 pm
Voters last month made New Zealand the seventh country to legalize euthanasia. The official results of the referendum, released last week, show 65 percent voted in favor of the “End of Life Choice Act.” Terminally ill adults with fewer than six months to live will be able to request euthanasia or assisted suicide starting in November 2021.
Last year, life insurance companies in New Zealand would not say how they would handle euthanasia cases if the procedure became legal because the question was hypothetical. But several companies confirmed last week they would still cover policyholders who died with medical assistance. Many plans already cover suicide deaths as long as they do not occur in the first 13 months the policy is effective. The new law requires insurance companies to act “as if assisted dying had not been provided” and record the patient’s terminal illness as the cause of death.
Meanwhile, some hospitals and hospices in New Zealand have announced they will not participate in euthanasia. Gore Health CEO Karl Metzler said the organization’s physicians do not support the legislation. “None of them got into medicine to end lives,” he said, adding that the organization would focus on its palliative care services instead.
Hospice Southland took a similar position earlier this year after a high court granted medical providers the right to conscientious objections. As privately run organizations, Gore Health and Hospice Southland can act on their convictions, but the new law might require government-funded hospitals and hospices to participate in the life-ending procedures.
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