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April 6, 2005

Postponement of Cancer Death and Life Insurance—Reply

JAMA. 2005;293(13):1592. doi:10.1001/jama.293.13.1592-c

In Reply: While viatical settlements raise ethical concerns, they are legal and subject to an increasing number of state and federal laws to prevent fraud and protect the dying. Viatical settlements may appear predatory, but awaiting death to inherit power, property, or money frequently occurs. Because we demonstrated that patients are unable to postpone death for three significant events, discounting viatical settlements would not appear to be warranted. A dying patient may alternatively generate funds by securing “accelerated benefits,” an early payout from an existing life insurance policy. If considering either option, dying patients would be wise to seek experienced counsel. Information on viatical settlements may be obtained from insurance companies, state departments of insurance, and the Federal Trade Commission.1

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