Treatment Options for BED without Health Insurance

Contributor:  W. Travis Stewart, LPC, NCC writer for Eating Disorder Hope

Supporting a friendDo you struggle with any of the following?

  • Eating larger than normal amounts of food in a short amount of time
  • Eating past the feeling of fullness, even to the point of feeling sick
  • Experiencing self-hatred following a binge
  • Hiding your food from others to eat at a later time

If you do, you may struggle with Binge Eating Disorder. To heal from this disorder it is important to seek treatment and support. However, in doing so, you may face obstacles to getting help. This may include:

  • Not finding an experienced professional in your area
  • Not having the support of friends and family
  • Feelings of unworthiness or guilt
  • Fear of how treatment might impact your life
  • Lack of finances or medical insurance to pay for treatment

Picnic basketIf you face these obstacles, be assured, you are not alone. These are common to individuals and families who deal with eating disorders. There are resources available to help you.

When it comes to finding a treatment option and you believe your insurance will not cover it or you don’t have insurance, consider the following tips:

If you do have insurance, don’t make assumptions about the cost of treatment or what your insurance may or may not cover. Call treatment providers and tell them about your insurance coverage. If they don’t take your insurance, ask about Out-of-Network options or ask for a referral to someone who does take your insurance.

Female doctorIf your insurance initially denies treatment, consider talking with a lawyer who specializes in helping those with eating disorders. One such lawyer is Lisa Kantor, she discusses the ins-and-outs of insurance for eating disorders [1]. There is a great deal of information in this article and if you are struggling with getting your insurance to cover what professionals have said you need, take the time to read through the entire article.

Ask treatment providers if they offer a sliding scale for treatment.

Reach out to national and local non-profit organizations for help, such as the National Eating Disorder Association [2], the Binge Eating Disorder Association [3], or Finding Balance [4]. They may be able to offer ideas and resources for treatment that you have not considered.

Contact and consider applying for a scholarship from one of the following organizations:


Research any laws in your state that support eating disorder treatment. For example, Missouri recently passed a law requiring insurance companies to offer fair coverage for the treatment of eating disorders.

Ask all of your providers about insurance. You policy may not cover a therapist but it might cover a registered dietitian or psychiatrist.

Learn about the different levels of care. The basics are:

  • Outpatient Treatment – Least restrictive, treatment provided by a team of a therapist, nutritionist, and physician.
  • Inpatient or Residential Treatment – Generally involving a stay at a hospital at a treatment center or hospital, this level of care offers continual care.
  • Partial Hospitalization – sometimes called day treatment or PHP. This often has the same components as residential treatment minus the overnight stay


Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What has been your experience with obtaining treatment for Binge Eating Disorder without insurance?


About the Author:  

Travis Stewart earned a Master of Arts in Counseling (2001) and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies (2003), both from Covenant Seminary in St. Louis, MO.  Travis is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Missouri and a writer for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope.


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 a 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 September 3, 2015. Published on