Five Foods that Could Cost You Later

When purchasing personal health insurance, most people are surprised to discover that body build can have a negative impact on health insurance premiums.  In fact, those with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 28 or higher may pay 25% to 100% more for health insurance premiums than the average person.   While the premium “up-rating” may later be appealed, a person must be able to prove that they’ve maintained weight loss for a minimum of twelve months before the insurance carrier will consider removal of the risk-adjusted rate.

Upon applying for health insurance, insurance carriers ask for disclosure of current height and weight.  There is typically another question on the application, which asks whether or not the applicant has gained or lost 20 lbs or more during the past 12 months.  If the answer is “yes”, the underwriter will pull medical records before making an offer, and if the determination is made that the person has had a history of obesity, the applicant may be offered a risk-adjusted rate, or even be declined for personal health insurance coverage.

Don’t pay more than necessary for your health insurance.  Consider a few dietary changes that will save you money in terms of health insurance premiums and health care costs in the long-run:

Sugar and Sugary Drinks
Sugar is the number one cause of belly fat and tooth decay. Our culture has a sugar addiction, but it’s easy to cut back on sugar these days without using dangerous sugar substitutes, such as aspartame.

  • Don’t drink soda or low-calorie soda.  The sugar and the carbonation are bad for your weight and your teeth and bones.
  • Cut back on fruit drinks.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages such as beer.
  • Sweeten smoothies, coffee or tea with Stevia instead of sugar.  Stevia is derived from a natural plant that tastes wonderfully sweet, yet has zero calories.
  • Drink plenty of water, and choose water when you eat out, instead of soda.
  • Cut back on cookies and sweet snacks.  Substitute sugar with unsweetened applesauce, and Stevia when you bake.

Wheat and Wheat Gluten
Breads, cereals and other grains with wheat gluten can be difficult to metabolize.  Breads and cereals break down into sugars and acids during the digestion process, which can result in weight gain and/or acid reflux disease (GERD). Both of these may cause you to pay higher health insurance premiums and spend a lot of money on acid reducers, such as Zantac, or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as Nexium and Prilosec.  These days, gluten-free pastas and breads, which are easier for the body to digest, are readily available at the grocery store and taste great.  Try them out for better health.

Processed Foods
Processed foods, such as crackers, cookies, chips, frozen dinners or basically anything in a can or jar are usually not healthy foods.  Choose whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables instead.  Here is a simple rule of thumb:  make fruits and vegetables equal to 60 – 80% of your diet, and you can’t go wrong.

Red Meat
Protein is an essential component of our diets, but for better health, we must limit our intake of meat.  Proteins, especially red meats, are difficult to digest and can lead to weight gain and acidosis if not eaten in moderation.  Choose smaller portions, or substitute with white meats, such as chicken or turkey breast, and watch the pounds melt away.

Coffee has become a staple in our society.  After all, there is a Starbucks on just about every corner.  Not only is the caffeine generally unhealthy for us, but what do we usually put in our coffee?  Sugar!  Just a few cups a day, sweetened with one teaspoon of sugar in each cup, will easily put you over your daily allowance of sugar intake.  If you must drink coffee, sweeten it with a couple of drops of Stevia for a sweet treat.  Think about trying a coffee alternative, such as Teechino. These small dietary changes could not only improve your health and wellness, but also reduce health costs down-the-road.

“Agent Advice” is a feature guest post from Lynne Erickson of Erickson Financial Services, Inc., Lynne has been assisting individuals and families with the purchase of personal health, dental and vision coverage for more than 10 years. Her primary objective is to help her clients procure suitable health benefits that offer the best value for the price. Lynne is a member of the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU).


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