To the Editor: The article by Dr Young and
Ms Hade1 indirectly addresses the controversial
subject of viatical settlements. If postponement of death can be attributed
to important dates, then a rational investor will accordingly discount his
purchase price of the viator’s life insurance policy.
Viatical settlements and newer hybrids are controversial for obvious
reasons: an investor purchases a terminally ill patient’s life insurance
policy at a discount of the face amount to make a profit. The viator receives
the discounted purchase price from the investor prior to his or her death,
to be used at the viator’s discretion. Upon the viator’s death,
the investor receives the proceeds of the life insurance. On one hand, value
has been created for both parties if the contract has been made freely. On
the other hand, the investor eagerly awaits the viator’s death: a disturbing
thought counter to many cultural norms.
Haug MG. Postponement of Cancer Death and Life Insurance. JAMA. 2005;293(13):1592. doi:10.1001/jama.293.13.1592-b