Tight fit in Oz
They’ve already dubbed it in Australia as the ‘fat tax’ with Aussies taking a long hard look first at their cans and bottles of beer, and then at their protruding bellies. With Australians insurance firms now charging at least 50 per cent on premiums for overweight people, many people are seeing Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as the leader of a Green (Counter-)Revolution. After all, it has been established that overweight people leave larger carbon footprints than their leaner counterparts. Could it be that Mr Rudd and the insurance companies are waging a war against fat people in the form of increased premium charges?
For every Kylie Minogue, there is a Shane Warne. Actually, make that many Shane Warnes considering that obesity-related diseases reportedly kill 17,000 Australians a year — among a population of a little more than 21 million people. Earlier, it was bad enough to be fat. Social behaviour especially in schools, pubs and sports arenas insisted on treating obese people with the usual digs and jokes acceptable to society. But now, at least in Australia — if not in the United States before it hit Down Under — fatness also eats into one’s insurance policies. When the practical matter of money pushes you to shed weight and stay fit, it’s either of two things: you resent the ‘new bigotry’, or you jolly well do something to become fit.
It’s only logical for Aussie insurance firms to be keen to take on healthy people. Unhealthy ones will become the future ‘specialised, high risk, extremely high premium’ category. But hang on, for the sake of showing off one’s bling, staying fat and paying more to be insured may be the next big trend.