Insurance Issues

I was really lucky in that I received treatment for ED in Canada - where I am covered under OHIP for hospital stays. So, in my days in treatment, I did not have to pay for anything. Other people around the world are not so lucky.

In some countries (for example, the UK and the US), there is no healthcare like there is in Canada. Thus, people with eating disorders who choose to go into treatment must pay for it - or use their insurance. The problem is that most insurance companies refuse to cover anorexia nervosa treatment.

If you go to http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500265_162-2059820.html and http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/03/06/436763/will-health-reform-provide-coverage-for-eating-disorders/ you'll read about some people's struggles with their insurance companies. What really caught my attention is that some insurance policies do not cover ED treatment because they believe that ED 'is a choice'. You can see why this is unfair and totally incorrect. NO ONE CHOOSES TO HAVE ANOREXIA. It may seem that the victim is choosing, but really, they are controlled by an evil monster who is relentless and makes constant demands. The poor patient is blinded from reality because of changes in the brain and hormones. So, why is insurance not covering this?! It is clearly a mental illness. In fact, anorexia has the highest mortality rate among all psychiatric disorders. There's a fact for insurance companies.

If you read on in the above links, you will also see that some companies do not cover ED because patients do not meet the whole criteria to have an eating disorder. Part of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Illnesses) says that to be diagnosed with anorexia, the patient needs to have: (these are just two of the criteria) a refusal to maintain weight at a normal range (85%) and loss of menstruation - also known as amenorrhea. My problem with this criteria is that some people with ED are not severely underweight - in fact, you can have anorexia nervosa and starve yourself, but still not look emaciated. Does that mean you aren't ill?! Of course not! And what about the amenorrhea? Well, some people actually still have their periods at low weights - even when they are starving themselves to death. Does this mean that they are not ill? NO!

My hopes is that these criteria will be eliminated from the next DSM. It is not fair that some companies (or even physicians) are not diagnosing and treating several victims of ED simply because they do not meet these points. This is plain wrong and inhumane. If someone is ill, they should be able to get the treatment that they need in order to live normally and happily. And because treatment is so expensive, it is not right that insurance companies are not covering this. In fact, staying for treatment for anorexia for one month in the US is about $30,000! Wow - that is basically how much a new car can cost you. Now imagine paying that for treatment because your insurance company will not recognize your illness. This is not right.

I pray that these companies will learn and see that having an eating disorder IS a mental illness and IS NOT a choice. I want them to realize that just because someone does not look like a skeleton, it does not mean that they do not have ED. I want them to understand that having a period or not having a period is not a reliable indication of anorexia. I want them to see that patients of anorexia are not just ill - they are VICTIMS.

I was a victim of ED too. And I know how it feels to have my illness downplayed by others who think that I can simply ignore ED or 'just eat'. So, to all those insurance companies who do not cover eating disorders....

YOU NEED TO BECOME INFORMED. YOU MAY BE SAVING SOMEONE"S LIFE IF YOU HELP THEM GET TREATMENT.

Popular posts from this blog

Starvation 'feels' good...?

Lessons from infants: 'Taking it all in'

Watch My Latest Presentation: What Future Doctors Need to Know About ED