Remembering Kevin Moore

Online Health Assessment Survey Creates Health Insurance Hassle For Low-Carb Dieters

The primary reason that so many of us start eating low-carb is to do something positive and good for our weight and health. We realized for ourselves after years of frustration attempting to eat the way we’ve always been told is “good” for us that it was simply an exercise in futility until low-carb living came into our lives and radically changed it forever for the better. It’s so amazing how much better you feel eating a high-fat, adequate protein, low-carb nutritional approach and nobody will ever convince you that eating any other way is what is right for you. But that doesn’t stop health insurance companies (full of medical billing workers and profiteering executives) from attempting to guilt-trip you into thinking you are harming, not helping yourself by livin’ la vida low-carb.

One of my readers sent me an e-mail a couple of months ago sharing the results of an online health assessment survey that helps to determine the health insurance rates for his family. He and his wife have been eating a high-fat, very low-carb diet for the past year and have seen “great blood lipids” as a result–higher HDL “good” cholesterol, lower triglycerides, and higher large, fluffy LDL particles. But he says it’s been “frustrating” trying to convince his health insurance company that these results are beneficial to his overall health.

We have to pass three requirements to obtain lower insurance premium (non-smoker, BMI and blood pressure). If we don’t pass the first three requirements, then we have to have detailed blood work done and promise to abide by a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor in order to keep the lower premiums.

Well, you and I know what that means–a low-fat, low-cholesterol, low-sodium, “heart healthy” diet. Yeah right! That’s what made us UNHEALTHY to begin with, so why would we ever go back on something like that again? It never ceases to amaze me how genuinely stuck on stupid the health industry has become despite all the clear scientific evidence that has come out about the benefits of carbohydrate restriction, meat consumption, saturated fat, and optimal health. This conundrum wasn’t lost on my reader either as he shared about this survey they required him and his wife to fill out.

Along with passing the first three requirements, they also said we have to fill out an online health assessment survey as well in order to keep the lower premiums. Holy cow! The online assessment asks about everything from blood work numbers to our diet. They wanted to know how much of the different food groups you eat from and how much of that artery clogging meat and saturated fat you’re getting per day. Just shoot me now!!!

He said the “unbelievable” results from this online health assessment survey were pushing for changes in their lifestyle that run counter to their low-carb principles. Despite having HDL cholesterol above 50 and triglycerides significantly below 100, they still promoted much of the conventional wisdom that has gotten us into this obesity and health crisis we now face in the United States of America in 2010. It’s why I wrote about why doctors seem so clueless when it comes to understanding cholesterol just a couple of weeks ago. So what did this survey find?

Under the “highest risk” category, the survey identified the following for his wife:

Nutrition: Eat a healthier diet.
Stress: Decrease your stress.
Exercise: Exercise more.
Cholesterol: Lower your cholesterol.

Allow me to translate that for you: Since you’re OBVIOUSLY eating so unhealthy, we need you to start lowering your fat and calorie intake immediately, take in some yoga and treadmill work, and stop consuming eggs, meat and cheese because the saturated fats will clog your arteries and make you die. They don’t even have to be this explicit when making those recommended changes because this is exactly what people think because we’ve been so brainwashed, er, I mean, conditioned into thinking is the “right” thing to do. Ironically, most people on low-carb are taking better pro-active steps to get their health under control than those who choose other lifestyle changes.

Getting into the nitty gritty of the “Condition Risk Summary” certainly cuts to the chase about what they think needs to be done in each area. For the “Nutrition” category that she is at “highest risk” for, the commentary in the survey claims “an early warning bell is going off” based on her chosen way of eating.

Your current dietary choices could be putting you on the road to future health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, stroke, obesity, and more. But don’t worry. We have good news! You can take action today and start changing your course!

Oh brother! There is absolutely ZERO proof that eating a high-fat, adequate protein, low-carb diet leads to ANY disease, much less the harrowing laundry list that this survey warns about. So what is the “good news” they suggest to this low-carber? They want her to add in “balanced, healthy nutritional choices, such as whole grains and fresh vegetables, into your daily routine.”

You’ll see and feel your body become healthier and stronger—and you’ll truly understand that old saying, “You are what you eat.”

WRONG! You will feel so incredibly healthy, vibrant and strong chowing down on delicious cuts of fatty meats, full-fat cheeses, eggs yolk and all, and real butter because those are the foods your body prefers to receive nourishment from. As we learned from Melissa Diane Smith on my podcast show recently, grains and unspecified veggies (most people choose the starchy ones when left to their own devices) are poison for the bodies of people with metabolic disturbances like diabetes, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. It’s not the oft-quoted “you are what you eat” but rather as the great Dr. Richard Feinman from The Nutrition & Metabolism Society says “you are what your metabolism does with what you eat.” That’s why we consume low-carb foods while shunning the whole grains and starchy vegetables. Your body just doesn’t need ’em!

The survey goes on to chide my reader’s wife for the lack of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and the addition of high-fat foods into her diet.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans stress the importance of variety in your diet. You should consume foods within the basic food groups (breads and cereals, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat), but choose foods that are low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, and salt. Choose lean meats and poultry and incorporate more fish, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds for added protein sources. Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, you should consume fats sparingly (less than 3 servings of high fat foods per day) and at least: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 4 or more servings of whole-grain foods, 3 (2-3 ounce) servings of high-quality protein (lean meats, beans, nuts, seeds, or tofu), and 3 servings of low fat milk or dairy products.

Ahhhh, the infamous Dietary Guidelines and the MyPyramid from the USDA which are currently under review for 2010 revision. This is why I have written so extensively about the decisions they are making because it literally guides and directs every aspect of how Americans look at what healthy nutrition is. Yes, you and I know it’s bogus info, but the average Joe and Jane trust the information is valid and live their lives accordingly. And we wonder why obesity, diabetes, and chronic disease is running rampant in modern culture.

In lecturing my reader’s wife about what “good nutrition” is, the health assessment survey notes that following their advice will “help prevent serious diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.” They recommend things like consuming whole-grain bread, low-fat or fat-free milk, consuming steamed or grilled foods, lowering saturated fat intake to less than 10% of calories to prevent cancer, consume up to 35 grams of fiber daily, and more. Resources they promote to get more information include the American Heart Association, the American Food Guidelines (MyPyramid web site from the USDA), and the American Diabetes Association.

No, I don’t trust any of those well-meaning organizations to give me quality nutritional health advice because they are completely immersed in conventional wisdom which has not worked for most of the people reading this right now. We were tired of failing over and over again doing everything we were supposed to do and we found our answer in healthy low-carb living. Why should an insurance company care the means to attaining good health when the goal should be focused on the good health itself? If my reader’s wife chooses to eat a high-fat, adequate protein, low-carb diet to achieve the desired health results, then that should be her prerogative without being chastised or ridiculed by an online health assessment survey commissioned by a health insurance company.

The assessment went on to chastise her about her increased stress, lack of exercise, and “high” cholesterol levels again pushing more of the same mumbo jumbo we’ve always heard about dealing with each of these. Wouldn’t an insurance company be better served letting their customers choose the diet and fitness routine that works for them over the long-term? Since I’ve been livin’ la vida low-carb beginning in January 2004, I have very RARELY been to see the doctor. I’ve been as healthy as I can possibly be despite the occasional weight gain which I’ve shared about frequently. Can somebody from the USDA, AHA, ADA, or any other major health organization explain why I have been able to avoid all of those chronic health conditions listed in this health assessment survey by eating lots of saturated fat, meat, eggs, butter, and cheese? ANYBODY?

I’m sure so many of you have seen or will see a similar survey as part of your health care. Don’t let the preaching they do sway you from doing what’s right for YOU! If low-carb living has made the difference in improving your blood sugar, cholesterol, weight, and health, then don’t you dare allow them to influence how you live your life. We’ve tried their way and it failed us. Now we’ve found a better way and we’re sticking to it for life! A much better life!

  • Deb

    These kinds of tactics only leave us with one option if we are required to take these types of surveys. Lie.

    • I would if it impacted my rates. And I wouldn’t feel bad about it either.

  • MCOZ-09

    I think it’s time that every one in the low-carb camp bands together and goes public with a case against this Insurance Company (or some other insurance company, or a medical institution eg, Mayo Clinic/see their new healthy diet book) on the grounds that their recommendations will cause harm, that there’s no evidence for their proposed changes to an utterly healthy regime, and to the contrary, they simply don’t work.
    THERE must be a lawyer or 2 in the low-carb community. We need them. There are enough research folks and physicians with more than enough scientific evidence and clinical trial data to put together a mighty strong case for low carb instead of low fat.
    We absolutely have to mount a case asap to counteract the ‘Genocide” (as per James Carlson) being pushed not just by all the governmental and private medical and health institutions, but now the insurance agencies, and by anyone involved with food (look at how difficult it is to purchase normal, plain yogurt; it’s all fat-free or fat ‘squashed’ ie, proessed). The food industry has gone nuts with fat free (well not fat free nuts?), the dairy industry has to ultra-pasteurize cream and add thickening agents. There’s simply nothing in the local supermarket that isn’t “heart healthy” and processed AND it’s all absolutely, 100%, misguided baloney.

  • Dan (aka Renegadediabetic)

    The diet nazis are here.

    Even though I hate to admit it, lying may be the only viable alternative until we can mount a legal challenge. Afterall, these folks are falling for one big lie, what’s another small one?

  • If we’re asked to fill something like this out, I’m just going to answer “what they want to hear” rather than what we really do. 1st of all, why is it anyone’s business how I choose to feed myself and my family? Who’s making a profit by having these insurance companies advocate for low-fat/high carb?

    It’s only a matter of time before the “sin tax” is added to meats/whole milk/butter/fats.

    • Paula, I agree! That’s why I’m no fan of the tax on sugar because what’s next? It’s gonna be fat!

  • Jakounezumi

    Lie, yep that was my first thought too after just a few lines of reading :) Until such time the world is ready for us.. I guess we’ll just have to “stay in the closet” so to speak 😉 at least “officially”

    And yes, fat tax is on the horizon, I do believe I saw that being proposed in Denmark a while back. And if experience have shown anything in the places where sugar tax has been implemented, it doesn’t really work, but it does increase the governments income and we all know how much they love THAT 😉

  • Things like these disgust me. But, it also motivates me to continue to get the word out about what living healthy is truly all about. I believe the blogging world is causing us to head in the right direction and I will make sure that this continues to happen.

  • I opened with the comments to say what everyone else is saying: Lie. I would not feel bad at all if it meant the difference between high and low insurance premiums.

  • Jimmy,

    What a great story pointing out how backwards health insurance and the healthcare industry are.

    We still have a lot of work to do!

    Dr Jeff Gerber

  • Yanika

    Overall, I’m incensed about the fact that it is even admissable (aka, “legal) that these insurance companies can demand so much personal health background by the tactic of threatening our premium expenses. I’m just completely uncomfortable divulging personal health info, to an industry who’s had such a long standing history of self-serving tactics without wondering how it may be used to discriminate aginst me.

    At my employer’s, we were told if we didn’t complete the HA, our premiums would be $50 more! I did complete it, and I did just what Paula stated, I told them “what they want to hear” other than the one truth I did tell them, which is that I am a non-smoker, which incidedntally, all smokers were excluded from the $50 “incentive” program, so I’m just hoping these guys didn’t waste their time providing any info at all to the insurance company.

    My only question/concern is…if I were to have any complications that can be directly associated to something I was not honest about with them, (for example I weigh more than I stated,) can this be used against me to deny future claims, etc.??

    • I don’t know, Yanika, that’s certainly a good question for an attorney to answer. But you’re exactly right! It is scary how the motivations of an insurance company would force anyone to lie about their lifestyle choices. What’s next? How much saturated fat you eat? We’re headed down the slippery slope.