When a Family Does Not Have the Financial Resources to Pay For Treatment

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Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

Eating disorders require therapeutic and professional treatment for intervention and healing, because of the complexity of these psychiatric illnesses. Depending on the severity of the disease and the types of medical and psychiatric complications that may be involved, eating disorder treatment can be sought at different levels of care, including inpatient treatment and hospitalization for the most acute cases to intensive outpatient treatment and more.

Determining the most appropriate level of care should be done by a health care professional specialized in eating disorders, such as a licensed professional counselor, psychiatrist, or medical doctor.

After determining what type of care might be most appropriate for an individual seeking eating disorder treatment, it is then necessary to begin finalizing the details involved with admittance to your program of choice. Your eating disorder specialist may have some recommendations based on the type of care that is needed.

In addition, treatment centers can be found in directories available across eating disorder information websites, such as Eating Disorder Hope, the National Eating Disorder Association, and the Academy for Eating Disorders.

Selecting a Treatment Center

Mature woman with daughter having serious conversationMany factors should be considered when selecting a treatment center, including the level of care needed based on a professional assessment, the proximity and location of a treatment center, and the accreditation status of a program and their facility. Due to the cost associated with treatment for eating disorders, the financial aspect is also an important aspect for families to consider when seeking out professional care.

If your family has health insurance, you may consider contacting your insurance provider directly to inquire about your mental health benefits and to determine coverage for eating disorder treatment. Your insurance provider should also be able to provide recommendations for facilities and programs that are in-network, which may help reduce costs.

In the case that your current health insurance plan does not cover treatment for eating disorders or has denied your claim for eating disorder treatment, you may consider taking the time to write an appeal letter or seeking out assistance from a professional that is knowledgeable about working with health insurance companies for eating disorder treatment coverage.

In the meantime, there are other resources that can help you get the funds you immediately need, even in the instance that a health insurance provider will not cover treatment or when there is a lack of coverage all together.

Treatment Center Options

Young man with eating disorder therapist receiving Guided Imagery.When deciding on your treatment center options, be sure to inquire if a sliding scale is available. Some treatment centers may be able to adjust the cost of treatment based on your family’s current income. You might also inquire if there is a reduction in cost for paying out of pocket or if there is an option for a payment plan. This might give your family the option to pay a small amount towards treatment each month.

Be sure to work with the treatment admission intake coordinator to discuss all of the options that might be available for your family to finance treatment for an eating disorder. Many treatment centers have individuals who are also able to help you navigate what might be covered through your health insurance provider.

Other outside organizations may also be considered, and you might be able to apply for a treatment scholarship or grant. Some organizations to consider for these purposes include the Kirsten Haglund Foundation, the Manna Fund, and Project Heal. Take the time to look into these organizations if you are lacking insurance coverage for eating disorder treatment.

Once you have a clear idea of what will need to be paid out of pocket and what cannot be covered by outside support organizations, it will then become necessary to develop a plan for funding treatment. The life of your loved one is worth the treatment that is provided by professionals and can be an invaluable part of their recovery.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

If you and your family have been through the eating disorder recovery process, what were some things that help you in terms of affording treatment? What suggestions might you offer to other families who are going through a similar situation?


Crystal Headshot 2About 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 Special Projects Coordinator 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.


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.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 27, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He is responsible for the operations of Eating Disorder Hope and ensuring that the website is functioning smoothly.