The Nation's Biggest Crooks…

...are easily the health insurance companies. For many reasons. Here's a new one for the list:

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."

Just more evidence that healthcare providers want to keep you sick so you'll pay them to (maybe) make you better -- that is, if they don't randomly deny you the coverage you've already paid for.

The New England Journal of Medicine report observed:

"Although investing in tobacco while selling life or health insurance may seem self-defeating," the authors write, "insurance firms have figured out ways to profit from both. Insurers exclude smokers or, more commonly, charge them higher premiums. Insurers profit — and smokers lose — twice over."

The people who claim to be "healthcare providers" have literally invested $4.5 billion into the public marketing and consumption of poison. Meanwhile, profits are earned on the treatment of the resulting diseases. And around and around we go.