The specific claims about “death panels” in Democrat health care proposals are incorrect, but the underlying fear is justified. When the government provides subsidized insurance, people have an incentive to use more health care than they would if they were paying their own bills. The government’s only effective way to control this overconsumption is to ration care by making arbitrary decisions about what care is “worth it”. In the meantime, the government wants to convince you to seek as little medical attention as possible.

David Freddoso illustrates point in case in a piece on Veteran’s Affairs so-called “death book”. The book, designed as an end-of-life resource for wounded veterans, seems disturbingly weighted toward convincing them to reject care. Freddoso quotes Jim Towey’s assessment:
"Your Life, Your Choices" presents end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions, much like a political "push poll." For example, a worksheet on page 21 lists various scenarios and asks users to then decide whether their own life would be "not worth living."
The circumstances listed include ones common among the elderly and disabled: living in a nursing home, being in a wheelchair and not being able to "shake the blues." There is a section which provocatively asks, "Have you ever heard anyone say, ‘If I’m a vegetable, pull the plug’?" There also are guilt-inducing scenarios such as "I can no longer contribute to my family’s well being," "I am a severe financial burden on my family" and that the vet’s situation "causes severe emotional burden for my family."
Incentives matter. When the government is paying for your health care, they will care a lot about how much it costs, and not very much about what you get out of it. The massively irresponsible spending proposals before Congress hasten the day when pulling the plug must become more than a suggestion.