Insurance coverage for eating disorders and other mental illness: WHY CHANGE NEEDS TO HAPPEN

http://newsroom.cumc.columbia.edu/blog/2014/02/24/a-conversation-with-allegra-broft-cumc-eating-disorder-expert/

I am a male who has recovered from an eating disorder, and prior to going into treatment I had heard about how horrific insurance companies are when it comes to mental health care. However, it was not until I found myself in the situation that I realised how horrible! Luckily for me, my parents had decent insurance.

My particular insurance agent happened to be a very rare in that they actually knew that eating disorders are NOT treated (much less cured) if your weight goes closer to ‘normal’ or your purging/binging behaviours have ceased.

Eating disorders are SO MUCH MORE than just physical; there is an entire psychological aspect that TAKES TIME to begin and take effect. I am recovered today, but some of my friends are unfortunately not. I am heart broken to constantly hear that some of them are on death’s door. Yet, at the time they need it the most, their insurance ‘runs out’ and the company refuses to pay for treatment.

In my opinion, if insurance companies would worry less about the money being spent each day and looked at the LONG-TERM outcome if they provided on-going coverage until the individuals are at a good place (physically AND MENTALLY), they would be paying less in the long-run. Re-admission to treatment is inevitable when patients are forced out too soon. And with each re-admission the insurance company in question has to pay more.
In my eyes, some insurance companies are treating profits as a higher priority than the health of the individual’s driving this profits. This is NOT ACCEPTABLE. Change needs to happen NOW! Unfortunately, some of my friends suffering may not have that much longer to live if the poor insurance coverage for their eating disorders is not improved. There are millions of people suffering with mental illnesses each day, and they all need help. We cannot do it by ourselves. Let us unite as a people and demand better financial coverage for mental illness; mental illnesses are hard enough to fight without the added stress and fear of being ‘kicked out’ of the professional care needed before being ready. Recovery seems so far away and out of reach to the people in this situation.
As I already said, I am recovered but I was lucky. There are so many people who have not been as fortunate and there will be many more.  I feel for them and deeply want to help them be able to get all the help needed and begin living a life of joy and happiness. But I am only one person, and I need others to speak up about this issue if changes are going to happen! A difference needs to be made, and in a timely fashion, for the millions of American’s suffering from eating disorders and other mental illnesses.


 Ryan Branson

Ryan is currently studying Eating Disorders & Clinical Nutrition at UCL and will begin a another degree to become a registered dietitian. He hopes to work as a dietitian with patients with eating disorders. He is from Missouri.

Follow Ryan – @Rlbranson08

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