Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Toys R Not 4 Us

In a move that stunned many, behemoth toy manufacturer Mattel announced a recall of millions of toys. This was the second recall in two weeks.

So what does this have to do with insurance?

Quite a bit. Mostly on the P&C side but it can also impact the health of our children and may have a ripple effect on health insurance costs & premiums.

Of course this is not just about Mattel, or toys. The picture is much bigger.

But the latest recall could feed growing international worries about the quality and safety of consumer products made in China.

It would follow a series of other recalls by manufacturers this year involving a wide range of products from contaminated pet food ingredients to defective tires to tainted Chinese-made toothpaste.

Food products, toiletries, toys. Will the list continue to grow?

In a desire to deliver cheaper products to the American consumer manufacturers of all kinds of products are continually outsourcing the manufacturing to foreign soil where cheap labor rules. The result is products that are unsafe and could cause harm to those who use them.

Earlier this month, Mattel recalled over one million toys, including Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer products made by its Fisher-Price unit because they were contaminated with excessive levels of lead paint, which if ingested could pose health hazards to children.

Mattel said Lee Der Industrial was responsible for producing the toys that contained excessive levels of lead paint.

Lead paint has been banned in the U.S. for years due to health hazards. Parents are being warned not only to check out toys in use but to be concerned about the health of their child if the toy has been in their possession for more than a month. Parents who suspect their child may have ingested toxic levels of lead are being encouraged to take their child to their pediatrician for testing.

The problem with lead poisoning is that the symptoms & side effects may not manifest themselves for years.

If your child has any of these symptoms of lead poisoning and he is at risk for lead exposure then you should see your doctor immediately. Most children with lead poisoning do not have any symptoms, so if your child is at risk you should still have him tested even if he is not having any problems.

If your child starts to show symptoms of lead poisoning, you may not be able to trace it back to a particular source. That means the financial burden of treating and caring for your child could fall on your health insurance plan.

This is a Pandora's box no one wants to open.
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