More people are beating cancer due to improvements in both conventional and nonconventional treatments. While this suggests a reason to be hopeful, cancer treatments are still costly. Viatical settlements are an effective method of paying for cancer treatments since they can almost always be sold for more than their cash surrender value. In addition to medical bills, viatical settlements can also be used for other purposes that will benefit the patient’s family.
A viatical settlement is a financial product designed for terminally ill people who have a life expectancy of 24 months or less, whether it’s from cancer or some other condition. Its primary purpose is to allow policyholders who are terminally ill access to the funds needed for medical bills and personal expenses.
Viatical settlements involve the sale of a life insurance policy after the policyholder becomes terminally ill. Some policies have provisions that allow the policyholder to receive a benefit in advance of that person’s death. Essentially, an investor, fund, or some other organization buys the life insurance policy. These buyers typically pay 50 to 70 percent of the policy’s face value depending upon the length of the life expectancy.
Once a viatical settlement is made, the seller may spend the proceeds however they want. They may choose to pay for cancer treatments at a top hospital, or simply use the money to spend quality time with friends and family.
In many cases, a terminally ill person wants to use a viatical settlement to pay for treatment that isn’t covered by health insurance such as alternative treatments or a strong home care program.
The procedure for obtaining a viatical settlement begins by contacting a broker who will then look for companies that buy life insurance policies. The broker will put the case file together and send it out to market, which could include up to 20 different buyers or investors.The broker then informs the family members about the highest bid, which they are free to accept or reject.
Policyholders are under no obligation to sell their life insurance policy or to convert their existing policy into a new policy. There is also no risk in obtaining quotes just to determine the policy’s market value as a viatical settlement. Assume for this example that a patient with terminal cancer has a whole life insurance policy worth $250,000. The highest bid for this policy could be in excess of $150,000, which would help pay for ongoing treatments.
Expensive cancer treatments are the most common reason for obtaining a viatical settlement. However, terminal patients also have additional uses for these funds such as the following:
Terminally ill patients typically must make frequent trips from their home to the hospital, which can be time-consuming and exhausting. The proceeds from a viatical settlement can alleviate much of the stress by paying for home care. This benefit primarily includes hiring medical professionals to come to the patient’s home, but it can also pay for additional in-home staff such as a cook, housecleaner or nanny. These services can go a long way towards improving a cancer patient’s quality of life.
Working can become impossible as cancer treatments continue. In these cases, it may be better to use the proceeds from a viatical settlement to completely replace income. Taking a settlement can allow the policyholder relief from worrying about their finances. Some policyholders may choose to place these proceeds into a trust that will disperse funds at a rate equal to the policyholder’s salary.
Someone who is terminally ill may have accumulated credit card or other types of debt due to their inability to work. The seller may want to use the settlement funds to pay off existing debt. A viatical settlement can also pay the balance on a home mortgage loan, giving the beneficiaries clear title to the home.
Viatical settlements can be used to go on a much needed vacation or to travel to see family in other parts of the country. Creating memories with family and friends will be money well spent! Renting rooms for the family at a hotel near the hospital is also a common use for viatical settlements.
Death rates are the best way to measure progress in cancer treatments since they’re less affected by improvements in detection practices and incidence and survival rates. The American Cancer Society reports that the overall rate of cancer deaths in the United States was 215 deaths for every 100,000 people in 1991, largely due to the widespread practice of smoking tobacco. The subsequent reduction in smoking and improvements in early detection and treatment reduced that rate to 159 per 100,000 by 2015, resulting in 2.3 million fewer deaths from cancer during this period. The drop in death rates applies to all four of the most common types of cancer, including breast, colorectal and prostate. Cancer treatments may be classified into conventional and unconventional methods, according to their degree of acceptance and scientific evidence.
Conventional treatments for cancer are widely accepted and practiced by a majority of physicians throughout the world. These treatments may be classified into surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Some cases may be treated with only one of these modalities, although it’s becoming increasingly common to treat cancer with multiple modalities.
Surgery is generally more effective at relieving pain caused by cancer than the other methods, although it often requires more procedures. Surgical treatments may primarily be classified into preventative and curative surgery. Preventative surgery removes tissue that isn’t yet cancerous, including precancerous and abnormal tissue. Curative surgery removes malignant tumors before they spread beyond their current location.
Chemotherapy uses medication to treat cancer, typically in combination. Its ultimate goal is to stop the division and growth of cancerous cells, although a treatment that merely slows these processes is often considered successful. Chemotherapy is a systemic therapy that affects the entire body, which can include healthy cells. This characteristic of chemotherapy often results in a large number of adverse side effects.
Radiation therapy uses radiation containing high-energy particles such as gamma rays and X-rays. Its general purpose is to kill cancer cells, causing tumors to shrink. The most common forms of this type of therapy include external-beam radiation and internal radiation therapy, also known as brachytherapy. External beam therapy uses radiation produced by a machine outside the body, while brachytherapy involves placing radioactive material near the cancerous cells.
Non-conventional treatments for cancer generally aren’t widely accepted or practiced by the majority of physicians. Many of these treatments also lack approval by government agencies. The efficacy of non-conventional treatments may not be supported by scientific evidence, meaning that no scientific studies exist at all or the studies failed to demonstrate statistically significant efficacy. The most common types of non-conventional cancer treatments include immunotherapy, homeopathy and lifestyle changes.
The purpose of immunotherapy is to improve the body’s immune system, which normally only attacks foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Cancerous cells are created by the body, so the immune system never recognizes them as invaders. Immunotherapy attempts to modify stimulate the immune system so that it does attack cancer cells.
Homeopathy treats cancer at the molecular level by using very small doses of highly diluted herbal remedies. The purpose of this treatment is to improve the body’s own ability to heal itself and regulate its own processes. The regimens used in homeopathy are highly customized for each patient.
Lifestyle changes are changes to daily living activities designed to improve a cancer patient’s prognosis. They typically include dietary improvements, regular exercise and changes to work schedules that allow a person to get more rest. Lifestyle changes can allow someone to fight cancer more effectively, but they aren’t considered a conventional treatment by themselves.
The continuing improvements in treatments are increasing the likelihood that a cancer patient will have a viable treatment. However, costs are also rising, making it more difficult for patients to afford those treatments. Viatical settlements are becoming a common method of paying for cancer treatments, prescriptions, and other financial hardships. A settlement allows the patient and their family relief from financial worry at a time when the physical and psychological well-being of the patient is most important!
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