Starting June 9, terminally ill Californians can request prescriptions from physicians for medications that would end their lives. Here are questions and answers about the End of Life Option Act.
Who can get these prescriptions?
You must be a California resident, at least 18 years old and terminally ill with no more than six months to live.
Who can prescribe lethal medications?
When was California's law passed?
Do other states allow this practice?
Is aid-in-dying the same as euthanasia?
Are doctors required to comply?
How can I find a doctor that will write a prescription?
Other states don’t have databases of doctors who will prescribe these medications, and that will likely also be the case here. However, the organization that leads efforts nationwide to pass such laws, Compassion & Choices, runs a free hotline that might be able to help answer questions: (800) 893-4548.
What is the process for getting a prescription?
Does a patient need to undergo psychiatric evaluation?
How many people in California are expected to take advantage of the law?
State officials expect that California “will mirror Oregon’s trend of very low utilization,” according to a state budget report.
What is the medicine that is used?
The most common drug is secobarbital. It is usually prescribed with drugs that help suppress nausea or vomiting. Together, the medicines typically cost about $5,000.
Does insurance cover the cost of the medicine?
The law does not require insurance companies to cover this treatment. Administrators for private health plans are still figuring out how they’re going to implement the law, and people should contact their insurance company with questions, said Nicole Evans, spokeswoman for the California Assn. of Health Plans.
However, both Medi-Cal and insurance companies are barred from informing patients that the treatments are covered. A controversy in Oregon in which the state’s Medicaid plan sent letters to terminally ill patients that both denied them an expensive cancer drug but notified them that aid-in-dying treatment would be covered was part of the reason why this line is included in California’s law.
Is the law permanent?
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