Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Why aren't you dead yet
This is disgusting.
When M. Smith learned she had AIDS in the early 1990's, she figured it was a death sentence....

She was 35, healthy, and never suspected that an ex-boyfriend, who died years earlier of AIDS related complications, had infected her.

Smith, who also had cancer at the time, says her prognosis gave her less than two years to live. So, she started to get her affairs in order.

One day, flipping through a magazine for HIV positive people, Smith, who asked we shield her identity, saw an ad offering to buy her $150,000 life insurance policy. Smith had no children and no husband.

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.

Back when all the magazines said AIDS was 100% fatal, this must have sounded like a great business plan to some Wall Street genius. They could realize huge profits and even manage the appearance of compassionately caring for the terminally ill. Of course, it was only the appearance that they cared about. If the terminally ill didn't hurry up and die while they were still profitable, the investors would quickly lose their comapassion.
That was 12 years ago. Smith is still alive, and the company has paid out $100,000 in premiums, according to Smith's attorneys. But Smith and her lawyers also claim that over the years, Life Partners has been trying to get out of its contract, claiming Smith should pay her own health premiums and at one point sending a letter saying, "The investors ... are no longer willing to support the cost of your health insurance."

In a letter to Smith this past August, the day her premium was due, Life Partners demanded she pay the money herself. Because Smith just turned 50, her health premiums jumped to $29,000 a year, money the self-employed woman does not have. Without that insurance, she says she will not be able to afford the pricey AIDS medicines keeping her alive.

Heartless opportunism is the core of corporate capitalism.

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