The letter from the health fund was a master work of diplomacy.
Still I wasn’t sure whether – having just recently turned 50 – I should laugh or cry.
Was this another example of actuarial tables determining yet another area in which – owing to my advancing age – I’d become suddenly incapable?
Had some specialist accountant overnight switched my ovaries to off?
My 68-year-old husband who, not entirely incidentally had a vasectomy more than 30 years ago was just plain cross, calculating we could have saved $3000 over this time.
“Currently, your hospital cover includes benefits for pregnancy,” the insurer wrote. “From March 1, 2014 we will offer your exact same level of hospital cover, but without pregnancy.
“We think you will prefer this option which is why we will automatically switch you across to this cover.
“This means you will be paying approximately a 5 per cent lower premium.
“You don’t need to do anything,” the letter concluded in bold type.
The unwritten implicit being … especially not get pregnant.
Heavens! The name’s not Mary … even supposing I wanted to I couldn’t even legally adopt my first child after age 45.
Now, I admit becoming a little sensitive about my age since renewing our mykis and mine was also handed back stamped with an ‘S’.
“That’s four return tickets a year free” said experienced pensioner with a wink and a nudge.
I thought briefly about cashing in on this mistake.
But, as technically you also have to have an aged concession card ready to show the conductor, I reasoned I’d never get away with it.
Far worse though was the prospect that I might.
But, I’m only 50, I wailed.
As the population ages we are being forced to redraw the lines on what constitutes elderly in all respects.
In 1901 only 4 per cent of Australians were aged 65 or older; today it’s over 15 per cent and projected to increase to 23 per cent by 2041.
At the time of the 2006 Census, there were just 3154 people age 100 or over in the whole country. By 2020 the number of centenarians is expected to exceed 12,000 – the Queen, who’s no spring chicken herself, will have to set a higher bar sending out those congratulatory cards.
“My husband and I are pleased to know that you are celebrating your 150th birthday … “
As we live longer people will need to work longer with the pension age to rise to 67 for both men and women by 2023.
Yet legislation is not keeping pace with workers’ compensation payments and income insurance reaching an expiry date at 65 in most instances.
There are more than 140,000 unemployed Australians aged between 50 and 64 receiving the Newstart allowance from Centrelink, but discrimination against older workers continues.
About one-third of older people who have given up looking for work say it is because employers think they are too old.
All the more reason to applaud American Apparel then for adopting 62-year-old actress Jacky O’Shaughnessy as the new face of its lingerie line.
So what if I no longer qualify to enter the Royal Military College, to become an airforce pilot, a contestant on Australian Idol or even join Australia’s skilled migration program.
A gal can still have goals.