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Tuesday, April 4th 2006

Gambling You'll Die

A story on companies that invest in and buy up private life insurance policies. It is something called viatical settlements.

According to the contract she signed, the company, Life Partners, would pay her $90,000 up front, and cover her combined life and health insurance premiums if she lived longer than two years. When she died, the company would collect the full value of the policy, potentially a windfall profit of more than 60 percent, depending on when Smith died.

Of course, the woman fortunatley (or unfortunatley for Life Partners) continues to enjoy what life today with the advent of improved HIV treatment drugs and protocols. Now she’s tied up in a battle over who is going to pay for her continued care.

We are talking about a surprisingly large business.

Sounds pretty creepy to me to give someone you’re unrelated to a reason to see you die quickly and then entrust your healthcare expenses to them. Still terminally ill individuals often need cash, so it is easy to understand why people choose to do it.