The Synergy Between Healthy Eating and Health Insurance

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The Synergy Between Healthy Eating and Health Insurance

Health insurance is important for all Americans, as it protects us from high costs if we get sick. With that said, health insurance can be too expensive for many, and that can mean that people will be underinsured or not insured at all. Fortunately, your eating habits can not only make it less likely that you’ll need medical care, but it can also lower your insurance costs significantly.

Unfortunately, eating healthy isn’t always easy. In this guide, we’ll show you how diet impacts your health, and therefore your insurance, and the barriers to eating healthy. We’ll also show you some steps you can take if healthy eating is a challenge for you and your family. 

How Diet Impacts Health

A study in The Lancet that examined the health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries from 1990-2017 found that 11 million deaths and 255 million disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) were caused by dietary risk factors. The study examined that high intakes of sodium, low intake of whole grains, and low intake of fruits were leading dietary risk factors. 

The study also notes that poor diet is the leading risk factor for deaths in the majority of the countries in the world. Diet has more of an impact on our health than exercise, pollution, genetics, or these factors combined. But eating a healthy diet isn’t so simple.

The Barriers to Eating Healthy

Eating healthy is a noble pursuit, but there are many barriers that make this difficult:

  • Education: Food education is unfortunately lackluster, so it’s no wonder that bad habits are passed through generations. If parents don’t know how to feed their children a nutritious diet, children won’t know how to feed themselves when they get older.
  • Time: The average person works 44 hours per week, and 41% of employees work 45 or more hours a week. Where are they supposed to find the time to eat a healthy diet? 
  • Skill: Cooking is a skill like anything else, and many of us aren’t taught how to prepare a meal. So even when we have the time to cook, many of us just don’t know how to do it.
  • Habit Changes: We know that diet culture doesn’t work, and it’s largely because it’s so difficult for us to change our habits. Not only that but if a person isn’t equipped with the right tools to change their habits, it feels impossible to eat a better diet.
  • Food Deserts: 54 million Americans are food insecure (lack reliable access to nutritious food), and 23.5 million live in food deserts (lack access to affordable food).

When you add in the cost of living increases and other cost-related factors, the barriers to healthy eating are substantial and difficult to overcome, and it can make healthcare expensive.

How Diet Impacts Health Insurance

Health insurance is a complicated topic. This is a big reason why you should consult a Medicare specialist, like the professionals at Medigap Seminars before you start shopping around.

With that said, health insurance is typically more expensive if you have a lot of pre-existing health conditions and/or are older. The older you are, the more likely you are to have pre-existing medical conditions. However, you can lower your health insurance premiums if you live a relatively risk-free lifestyle (i.e., healthy diet, safe career, safe hobbies, no drinking). 

But as we discussed, it’s difficult to eat healthily in the United States. If you’re unable to eat a healthy diet, there’s a higher chance that you’re poorer, overworked, stressed out, and don’t have the time to learn the skills you need to cook healthy meals or create a healthy meal plan. 

And if you can’t eat a healthy diet, you’re more likely to get sick. If you’re sick more often, your health insurance will get more expensive, or you’ll have to pay out of pocket more often, leading to medical debt. With more money going to medical debt, you have less to spend on eating healthy and less time to cook. This circular problem is a common reality for many Americans.

The Solution to This Dilemma

If you’re paying a lot for insurance, have difficulties finding/paying for nutritious foods, or don’t know where to start when it comes to nutrition education, there are solutions.

For one, you can seek the help of Medicare specialists to point you in the right direction. If that’s inaccessible, use free online comparison tools that show you what types of insurance you can afford based on your needs. Going without insurance is more expensive than getting it.

Next, do the following to find nutritious but accessible food in your area:

  • Carpool to the grocery store weekly with friends and family if it’s available to you.
  • Use Google Maps to find the closest grocery stores. If they’re too far or expensive, use an accessible computer and prepaid visa cards to buy products online.
  • Order non-perishables online in bulk, like oatmeal, canned beans, tomato sauce, and pasta. Buy an Amazon Prime subscription to save on shipping costs. 
  • Anything that’s non-perishable can be bought in bulk frozen.
  • Buy a Brita filter and a 4-liter water bottle, and drink mostly water.

Then, learn a few things about nutrition using online resources:

  • How much water to drink per day
  • How to cook Mediterranean and vegan meals, as these are the most healthy diets based on studies. Search for “Mediterranean dishes” or “vegan dishes” on Google.
  • Learn what ingredients mean on food labels to avoid processed food.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and protein-high foods. Don’t worry right now about how much you’re supposed to eat, as this can make you feel overwhelmed.
  • If time is available, make big pots of food to eat over multiple days, like chill or oatmeal.

Remember to take baby steps. Don’t feel like you have to change all of these habits in one day. In fact, it’s better to do so slowly, as that will help you build and keep these habits long-term.

In Conclusion…

The connection between healthy eating and insurance rates is widely known, but it isn’t always easy to eat healthy. However, if you use some of these tips and build these habits slowly, you’ll be able to make small changes that will eventually make your insurance cost much lower. 

About the Author

Jared Levenson is a former binge eating wrestler turned Zen Buddhist Monk, Internal Family Systems counselor and nutrition wellness coach. He's helped hundreds of people through universal meal principles and internal family systems to make peace with food, stop binge eating, and find true health and wholeness.


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