Exploring Insurance Coverage for Eating Disorders

After graduating from Fordham University in 2016, I moved from my off-campus apartment in the Bronx to Manhattan. Five years later and I haven’t left, nor do I have any plans on leaving. Living in Manhattan (pre-pandemic and present) is great in so many ways. The health care insurance coverage, however, is not so great.

It is no secret I struggled with an eating disorder the majority of college and even several years post-college. So around three years ago, with the support of friends and family, I found myself finally in recovery from my almost 7-year struggle with bulimia.

Not Accepting Insurance Coverage

Sadly, I soon found out one of the most difficult parts of my recovery was the fact that almost zero psychiatrists specializing in eating disorder treatment and recovery accepted any insurance coverage. I have a very limited number of doctors to choose from, and when I finally found a few doctors I liked enough to give a call, I couldn’t get in to see them.

Commonly, their morning timeslots (before work) and their evening timeslots (after work) were full and there were sometimes even a 6-12 month waiting list! At the time, I was so desperate to speak to someone who could help aid my recovery I ended up paying $200 a session to see a psychiatrist.

This was paid directly out of pocket. Soon, I couldn’t afford to keep up and had to stop seeing my doctor. Anyone seeking mental health support knows it is really tough to stop the needed support once it has begun.

After some research, I soon realized the insurance coverage options were so limited because eating disorders weren’t recognized as a ‘serious illness’ by most health care providers. This sparked my interest in the ‘Eating Disorders Coalition.’

The Eating Disorders Coalition’s Work

Their goal is to help eating disorders be recognized as a public health priority. EDC (Eating Disorders Coalition) has advocated and worked tirelessly with policymakers on Capitol Hill to pass a variety of legislation to help men and women of all ages all over the country struggling with mental illness and eating disorders.

Woman filling out eating disorder Insurance Coverage forms.Currently, they are working to pass the Nutrition CARE Act, which focuses on modifying Medicare to include outpatient Medical Nutrition Therapy as a covered benefit under Medicare Part B (1). Older adults are often overlooked in receiving mental health support and support for eating disorders. Medicare insurance coverage does cover nutritionists for a variety of reasons, but eating disorders are not one of them.

Recently, I had the pleasure of chatting with Chase Bannister. Mr. Bannister is currently acting as the President of the Eating Disorders Coalition. He shared that the reason EDC begins with Medicare is that it is a crucial building block in how other health insurance companies base and plan their policies. Not only does EDC strive to help those seeking recovery, but they also teach about the dangers of eating disorders and the lifelong effects this illness causes.

If you look online, you will see that the Eating Disorders Coalition is currently advocating for several other crucial pieces of legislation to be passed, including the SERVE Act, to help US servicemembers and their families receive treatment and care for eating disorders (1). Also, you can review previous policy initiatives and learn about their national advocacy days.

During my conversation with Mr. Bannister, I learned, once every 52 minutes, someone dies of an eating disorder in the United States. So why is it so difficult for this illness to be recognized as the serious and deadly illness it is? Eating disorders are the most lethal of all mental illnesses.

It is organizations like EDC that truly make us feel that the best is yet to come. In our future, I hope to find that those seeking treatment for their eating disorder have the opportunity to receive insurance coverage and help without breaking the bank!


Resources:

(1) Eating Disorders Coalition: (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2021, from http://eatingdisorderscoalition.org/


About the Author:

Hannah Roesler HeadshotHannah Roesler is a graduate from Fordham University and currently working and living in New York City. Hannah is originally from Spring Lake, NJ and often goes home on the weekends in the summer to enjoy the beach.

She struggled with laxative abuse throughout the majority of her college and several post-college years. She is currently in recovery and working as the Eating Disorder Hope Special Projects Coordinator. Her hobbies include SoulCycle and running both competitively and for leisure.


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on 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.

Published March 19, 2021, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on March 19, 2021, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC