Health insurers around the world collectively hold $4.5 billion worth of tobacco industry stock, according to a new study. The Consumerist has great highlights on the story, including this killer quote from the study’s co-author, David Himmelstein, “[It’s] the combined taxidermist and veterinarian approach: either way you get your dog back.” Also: Toronto’s Sun Life financial lied and said it didn’t have any tobacco stock — it has over $1 billion.
Why is it a big deal? “If you own a billion dollars [of tobacco stock], then you don’t want to see it go down,” says Himmelstein, “You are less likely to join anti-tobacco coalitions, endorse anti-tobacco legislation, basically, anything most health companies would want to participate in.”…But with $4.5 billion still invested in Big Tobacco, many insurers are reaping profits from a cancer-causing industry. As Himmelstein puts it, “Is this who we want running our healthcare system?”