Eating disorders are brain-based diseases and should be treated in the same way that we treat diseases of any other part of the body. Insurance companies should treat eating disorders and other mental health issues the same way that they treat other physical conditions. Those suffering from eating disorders and other mental illnesses should be able to access the appropriate level of treatment that they need in order to recover, in the appropriate and individualized amount of time it takes. All of these things should happen when treating and providing insurance coverage for eating disorders, yet they rarely do.
In a perfect world, we would have quick diagnosis and early intervention. High quality eating disorder experts and resources would be available to all, and insurance would approve in-patient treatment, out-patient treatment, transitional treatment, group therapy, individual therapy, dieticians, and any other support needed during the recovery journey. Families would not need to take out a second mortgage on their homes in order to save their children, and pay for treatment. People would not be mourning the loss of loved ones as they suffer in silence, slipping through bureaucratic insurance cracks.
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t tell someone suffering with an eating disorder that they aren’t sick enough to receive treatment, that their illness is chronic and therefore can’t be treated, that treatment for their life-threatening disease isn’t yet medically necessary. We just wouldn’t say these things. So why are insurers still treating eating disorders as if they aren’t true and serious diseases worthy of recovery? Although Mental Health Parity requires insurers to treat eating disorders in the same way they treat other health issues, insurers continue to spend an alarming amount of time denying and delaying insurance claims for the treatment of eating disorders. We see it every single day.
Perhaps insurance companies don’t fully understand that treating eating disorders efficiently and effectively should not only improve patient outcomes, but reduce insurers’ costs as well. Insurers are doing a disservice to their own companies, to those suffering, and to those working in the eating disorder field, as they terminate coverage for eating disorders too early, creating a “revolving door” effect –which likely means relapse and the need to return for more treatment. Allowing only minimal coverage for treatment is merely a band-aid solution to the problem. What’s more, outright insurance denials continue to rob eating disorder sufferers from the chance of lasting recovery.
In the insurance world, things don’t always work as they should. If you have been denied coverage for the treatment of your eating disorder, or coverage has been terminated before your work in treatment is complete, please contact Kantor & Kantor, LLP for support.
We understand and we can help.