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Affording & Paying For Eating Disorder Treatment

Deciding on Treatment

Medical care is expensive and treatment for behavioral health issues is no exception. Because eating disorders rarely resolve on their own, treatment is usually recommended. Most people start with outpatient therapy, which often proves highly effective. If not, inpatient eating disorder treatment centers are always an option.

Treatment options include:

  • Outpatient Treatment – Least restrictive, treatment provided by a team of a therapist, nutritionist, and physician.
  • Intensive Outpatient – Treatments typically occur within a facility with a team approach of counseling, nutritional therapy, and more.
  • Inpatient or Residential Treatment – Generally involving a stay at a hospital at a treatment center or hospital, this level of care offers continual care.

Eating Disorder Treatment Payment Options

We know quality care is very costly, but want to provide a ray of hope. Certain treatment centers offer scholarships or utilize a sliding scale when charging patients. Also, some insurance plans cover some, if not all, treatment. It is even possible to garner free eating disorder treatment from Mercy Ministries, or significant scholarship funds for treatment from the Kirsten Haglund Foundation, Manna Scholarship Fund and Eating Disorder Recovery, Inc.

Important organizations, such as the Eating Disorders Coalition, are constantly working to improve the responsiveness of insurance carriers by introducing Health Parity laws to congress.

Anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder are serious conditions that need to be treated appropriately.

Remember…eating disorders treatment can mean the difference between life and death for a child, friend, sister or spouse. You have many avenues to explore when it comes to the financial aspect of treatment.

Articles on Affording and Paying for Treatment

  • Recovering from an eating disorder is a very difficult undertaking, and the sufferer needs all the help they can get. This is why it is frustrating that a person has to not only fight the eating disorder, but also fight the insurance companies for declining much needed treatment.


Page Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on November 11, 2013
Published on, Eating Disorder Help Resources

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Lilia January 4, 2015 at 7:41 pm

I need help. Please I have no money but I can’t go on this way

Jessic J February 16, 2016 at 4:29 pm

hi lilia i am in the same boat as you and my medicaid won;t cover treatment

Patricia Combs March 15, 2016 at 8:45 pm

There are two Pro Bono law practices if you reside in California that will open a case against Medi-Cal if they will not authorize payment for the Higher Levels of Care necessary to break eating disorder behavior. If they do not serve your geographical area they may have resources for other Pro Bono law firms that can help you. Also call EDRC (Eating Disorder Resource Center (408) 356-1212 Los Gatos California)
Central California Legal Services 1(800) 675-8001
Legal Services Of Northern California 1(888) 354-4474

Jeana March 4, 2017 at 11:35 pm

I also need help, but my insurance through the company I work for does not cover mental health treatment. I have been living with ED for over 14 years, with no where to turn because I cannot afford therapy costs out of pocket. I live in Illinois. What are my options??

Courtney Howard March 6, 2017 at 6:00 pm

Hi Jeana:

You can take a look at our Illinois Eating Disorder Specialists Directory for providers in your area. If none of them are covered by your insurance, please consider these Illinois Support Groups or our Self-Help & Recovery Tips page.

If you do seek treatment not covered by your insurance, you can review this article on how to fight for coverage, including navigating the appeals process.

Please also join the conversation in our new online forum to connect with others going through similar issues on their path toward recovery.

I hope this is helpful! Thank you so much for reaching out!

Matt K March 28, 2017 at 2:00 pm

My girlfriend is desperately needing of treatment in the Conneticut area but there insurance went bankrupt and didn’t help anyways and her parents work as low level workers so income is barely enough to keep the house any suggestions would be appreciated.

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