An overwhelming number of individuals with eating disorders are in need of treatment, including everything from inpatient treatment to outpatient support. Sadly, there remains a tremendous gap between needing help and being able to pay for the necessary treatment.
Even with health insurance coverage, many individuals are left needing to pay for a portion of the costs for eating disorder treatment out-of-pocket. Approximately 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States alone struggle with eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, and 90 percent of these individuals will not receive access to the treatment they need .
The Challenges of Paying for Treatment
Eating disorders are the most deadly of psychiatric illnesses, involving a host of complications that require the support and intervention of a comprehensive treatment team for recovery . The good news is that with professional treatment, many individuals will have the opportunity to recover, especially with a multidisciplinary approach to care that includes medical treatment, nutritional interventions, and psychotherapy.
Eating disorder treatment is offered at various levels of care, and the type of treatment needed will depend on the severity of the eating disorder, any co-occurring issues that might be present, and whether there are any other medical conditions to address with the eating disorder.
The cost of treatment will also vary depending on a few different factors, including level of care, length of stay, as well as severity and duration of the eating disorder. According to Aetna, which serves as one of the largest health insurance providers in the United States, inpatient treatment can range anywhere from $500 to $2,000 per day, with the average cost for a 30-day stay in a treatment facility ranging up to $30,000 .
Many patients will require a minimum of three to six months in inpatient care and/or residential treatment in order to establish medical and psychiatric stabilization. Beyond this initial stage of treatment, an individual will typically transition to lower levels of care, including intensive outpatient and outpatient treatment. Continuing treatment can reach upwards of $100,000 or more, again, depending on the severity and duration of the eating disorder.
Even with insurance coverage, many individuals are expected to cover out-of-pocket contributions, which can create financial difficulty for many who are seeking to access treatment.
Connecting to Financial Assistance
Certain non-profit organizations have streamlined efforts to provide scholarships that directly fund treatment for individuals who need financial assistance, in an effort to help bridge the gap. While these organizations are few, they are working tirelessly to support the countless number of individuals who so desperately need financial assistance in order to receive appropriate treatment for their eating disorder.
Here are some of the non-profit organizations that currently work to financially support individuals needing help covering the cost of eating disorder treatment:
- Project HEAL: The mission of Project HEAL is to, “Provide grant funding for people with eating disorders who cannot afford treatment, promote healthy body image and self esteem, and serve as a testament that full recovery from an eating disorder is possible” . Co-founded by eating disorder survivors Liana Rosenman and Kristina Saffran, Project HEAL raises money for others suffering from eating disorders who are unable to afford treatment. Individuals who are interested in applying for a Treatment Grant can do so by completing a scholarship request form on the Project HEAL website. Applications are reviewed for the quarter, with financial awards distributed on a semi-annual basis.
- The Kirsten Haglund Foundation: Founded by Former Miss America and eating disorder survivor Kirsten Haglund, this foundation works to provide resources and scholarships for those seeking eating disorder treatment. While the scholarship application process is currently on hold, interested applicants are encouraged to check back for future opportunities that may be offered.
- The Manna Fund: This non-profit organization is dedicated to providing hope and financial assistance to individuals who need treatment for eating disorders. The Manna Fund is currently accepting applications and providing treatment at a local IOP/PHP program in Northeast Atlanta. Interested individuals are encouraged to apply through their website.
Please be aware that this list of resources is not exhaustive, but may help individuals get started with the process of funding their treatment. Others needing financial support have been able to fundraise independently, in an effort to generate the resources necessary for treatment.
If you are needing financial support for eating disorder treatment, do not give up on seeking out the resources you need to connect to care. Your life is valuable and there is hope for your recovery!
About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Director of Content and Social Media for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.
As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.
References:: National Eating Disorders Association, “What are Eating Disorders”, https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/general-information/what-are-eating-disorders Accessed 11 May 2017
: Psych Guides, “Using Aetna For Eating Disorder Treatment”, http://www.psychguides.com/guides/using-aetna-for-eating-disorder-treatment/ Accessed 11 May 2017
: The Project HEAL, “Who We Are”, http://theprojectheal.org/who-we-are/ Accessed 11 May 2017
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published on May 20, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on May 20, 2017.
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com