Cigarette money

Published: Wednesday 15 July 2009

Health insurance companies in the UK, US and Canada own almost US $4.5 billion worth tobacco stocks, a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed. But smokers are handed the short end of the bargain. The companies usually charge a higher premium from smokers for insurance cover or completely exclude them from coverage.

The US study said Sun Life, which offers life, health, disability and long-term care insurance in Canada, owns over US $1 billion in tobacco stocks. Prudential company in the UK has a total of US $1.38 billion in tobacco stocks. These countries are considering further privatization of health insurance. Harvard University researchers said this is just a reminder of the fact that the true priority of the insurance industry is profit, not health.

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