Insurance Companies Own $4.5 Billion in Tobacco Stocks

June 8, 2009

(ChattahBox)— A group of Harvard doctors uncovered a little known secret about the stock holdings of both health and life insurance companies; they have significant investments in tobacco companies.

In a cold-blooded business plan to cover all their bases, if an insured dies from the effects of smoking, the companies owning tobacco stock still benefit from the continued sale of cancer causing tobacco products. It’s a “win win” situation for insurance companies.

The Harvard doctors report that insurance companies in both the US and overseas, own nearly $4.5 billion in tobacco stocks.

“It’s the combined taxidermist and veterinarian approach: either way you get your dog back,” says David Himmelstein, a Harvard Medical School and co-author of the report.

Himmelstein explains that owning tobacco stock can’t help but have an impact on the decisions of insurance companies, even in subtle ways that can harm our health. Companies that own significant tobacco holdings would not want to see their earnings decrease.

For example, insurers owning tobacco shares would be “less likely to join anti-tobacco coalitions, endorse anti-tobacco legislation, basically, anything most health companies would want to participate in,” says Himmelstein.

Two of the worst offenders listed, include the Prudential company, with tobacco holdings totaling $1.5 billion and Sun Life Financial, which holds over $1 billion in Philip Morris and other tobacco companies.

Sun Life denied its holdings are that large, but Himmelstein says the Osiris database supports his claims.

The Harvard doctors involved in writing this report all support a national health care plan and point to their report as just another reason why our health insurance coverage shouldn’t be left in the hands of private

The eye opening report is available in the New England Medical Journal



One Response to “Insurance Companies Own $4.5 Billion in Tobacco Stocks”

  1. Insurance Blog » Insurance Companies Own $4.5 Billion in Tobacco Stocks … on June 8th, 2009 10:28 am

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