Obesity is not only straining health and shortening lifespans, it’s cutting into some business’ bottom lines. While costs have typically been set by individual, customer, passenger or tenant, now some companies are starting to charge premiums for those classified as overweight or obese, and others are going as far as to charge by the pound.
1. Veridian Credit Union
Health care costs have climbed 9 percent annually for the past three years for Veridian Credit Union in Waterloo, Iowa. Instead of eating those costs, the company is taking action and targeting overweight employees as well as smokers, starting this year, by sticking their employees who smoke and are obese with higher insurance premiums. The 500-employee credit union may be among the first to increase costs for overweight people, but it is not alone in raising health premiums for tobacco users.
Last year WalMart began charging tobacco users higher premiums but also offer free smoking cessation programs, reported Reuters. Wal-Mart spokesman Greg Rossiter explained Wal-Mart insures more than 1 million people including dependants and tobacco users
account for about 25 percent more healthcare services than non-tobacco users.
Veridian is also inspiring employees to get healthy. Last year it launched a wellness program and free screenings, which 90 percent of workers completed. While it will increase premiums on the overweight, it will also provide discounts for progress. Veridian “wants to reward those who have healthy lifestyles,” Renee Christoffer, senior vice president of administration for the credit union, told Reuters.
2. Samoa Air
The rising weight of populations is resulting in higher gas consumption for air travel. Samoa, one of the 10 most obese countries in the world, has recently started charging passengers over 286 pounds by the kilogram for airfare (a kilogram equals about 2.2 pounds). Cost per kilogram varies according to the length of the route. When booking travel, passengers nominate their weight, and then they are measured on scales with their luggage at the airport, reported the UK Telegraph.
"This is the fairest way of travelling," head of Samoa Air Chris Langton told ABC. "There are no extra fees in terms of excess baggage or anything – it is just a kilo is a kilo is a kilo."
3. Oak House, Japanese rental apartment
A Japanese apartment offers group living for women while promoting smaller waistlines: rent goes up or down with each woman’s weight, reported MSN.
The complex, called Lady Share House B&D, within the Oak House, is located in Osaka, Japan. It includes an exercise studio with stationary bikes and gym equipment. A spa is connected to the complex, and tenants are offered free lectures on healthy eating and weight loss.
Weight is calculated like the following example provided by the The Tokyo Times: If you weigh in at 132 pounds (60 kilograms), you'll pay about $603 (60,000 yen) a month in rent. If you manage to drop 22 pounds (10 kilos) your rent drops too, to $502 a month.