The insurance industry borrowed the Latin word, viaticum -- meaning provisions for a journey -- and created financial products called Viatical settlements, allowing the terminally ill to sell their life insurance. Investors who bought these policies realized a great return while helping the sick gain money for their final days. But the returns were not guaranteed -- if the dying lived longer than expected investors lost money.
Viaticals bet how long someone lives. The faster they die, the better the rate of return. When millions are at stake, it's a prescription for murder.
The protagonist of Viatical is a young doctor managing an experimental drug program promising to extend the lives of dying AIDS patients. When a terminal but stable patient with a large life insurance policy dies inexplicably and suddenly, everyone involved in the patient's life is suspect. Was it a mercy killing or murder for money?
A beautiful viatical broker befriends the doctor. Seduced and charmed, the doctor ignores conflicts of interest and finds himself in a precarious position when he discovers the beautiful woman's links to wealthy, mob-connected investors.
As he sorts out where true allegiances lie, the doctor's dangerous search for answers reveals more about himself than he knew as the suspenseful end of Viatical unfolds in the streets of Washington, DC.