Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Value Of Life

Last night, over dinner with my mate Dave, I mentioned that I enjoy shows like Boston Legal because they often cover topical issues or simply alert me to things I've not come across before.

As if to shine a spotlight on this, the latest episode of BL includes a case revolving around a Viatical Settlement.

This rather ghoulish concept has been around for some time, but surged during the nineteen eighties, when AIDS sufferers had little hope of efficacious medical treatment, because no drugs had yet been developed to retard the syndrome's effects.

Basically, the way a viatical settlement works is that a terminally ill person sells their life insurance policy for an immediate cash settlement and the purchaser makes a profit when they die.

While I can see the benefit to the policy holder, in that they have access to funds to make their remaining days easier, it seems incredibly mercenary for someone to profit from the imminent death of another human being.

Of course, often a patient will enter into such a transaction because they can't afford to pay the significant costs of their treatment. So, it is more prevalent in places where medical care is expensive and where there is little, or no, publicly funded health system, like the United States.

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