A Ghoulish Debate Over Cashing In On Death

When Thomas J. Beranek, an Austin (Tex.) transportation manager with AIDS, was laid off in April, 1993, he didn't want the government to pay his mounting medical expenses. Told he had three years to live, Beranek sold his life-insurance policies--with a total benefit of $58,262--and used the $25,139 cash payment to cover doctors' bills, pay off debts, and travel. Without the settlements, Beranek says: "I'd be on the streets now or 100% on the public dole."

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