You are here: MEDICA Portal. Magazine & More. MEDICA Magazine. Archive. Health Care Politics.
Health Insurers Invest in Fast-Food
Premiums seem to go straight
into fast-food companies; © SXC
Although fast food can be consumed responsibly, research has shown that fast-food consumption is linked to obesity and cardiovascular disease, two leading causes of death, and contributes to the poor health of children.
A new article on insurance company holdings shows that U.S., Canadian and European-based insurance firms hold at least 1.88 U.S. billion dollars of investments in fast-food companies. "These data raise questions about the opening of vast new markets for private insurers at public expense, as is poised to happen throughout the United States as a result of the recent health care overhaul," says lead author Arun Mohan.
Among the largest owners of fast-food stock are U.S.-based Prudential Financial, Northwestern Mutual and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, and European-based ING. U.S.-based Northwestern Mutual and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company both offer life insurance as well as disability and long-term care insurance. Northwestern Mutual owns $422.2 million of fast-food stock, with $318.1 million of McDonald's. Mass Mutual owns $366.5 million of fast-food stock, including $267.2 in McDonald's.
"Our data illustrate the extent to which the insurance industry seeks to turn a profit above all else," says Wesley Boyd, senior author of the study. "Safeguarding people's health and well-being take a back seat to making money." Mohan, Boyd and their co-authors culled their data from Icarus, a proprietary database of industrial, banking and insurance companies. Icarus draws upon Securities and Exchange Commission filings and news reports from providers like Dow Jones and Reuters. In addition, the authors obtained market capitalization data from Yahoo! Finance.
Several of these same researchers have previously published data about the extent to which the insurance industry is invested in tobacco. They say that because private, for-profit insurers have repeatedly put their own financial gain over the public's health, readers in the United States, Canada and Europe should be wary about insurance firms' participation in care.
MEDICA.de; Source: Physicians for a National Health Program