The Exorbitant Price Of Treating Eating Disorders

As hospitalizations for eating disorders increase, so does the price of treatment. Some programs now cost around $30,000 a month. A month! That's enough to buy a car, or your first year of law school (state school only).

The New York Times explains why treatment's so costly: because eating disorders involve so many different parts of a person's life, from nutrition to mental health. To address every angle of the problem requires getting help from a variety of specialists, and recuperation can take years. But at $30,000 a month, who can afford it?

Compounding the problem is that many insurers just won't cover any kind of long-term treatment. "Some [insurers] routinely deny adequate coverage of eating disorders on the grounds that there is not enough evidence on how best to treat them," Lynn S. Grefe, head of the National Eating Disorders Association, told the Times. And as another doctor points out, "insurers are often not well informed about which treatments work."

Here's a novel idea: how about insurers take some time to learn about which treatments work? Then again, even if the insurers became experts on eating disorders, it still wouldn't guarantee a solution for the afflicted. Many policies don't cover the best caregivers on the market, leaving patients stuck with choosing doctors who either don't specialize in eating disorder treatment or aren't all that great at it.

It's incredibly frustrating that some of the hardest health issues to manage and resolve still aren't considered "real" by the insurance-industrial complex (and sometimes even by the doctors). But eating disorders are real, duh, and also increasingly common. Among kids under 12, rates of hospitalization went up 119% from 1999 to 2006—which is just nuts, and the rate's probably even higher now. Maybe what-about-the-childrenism will inspire insurers to pay more attention to this issue? Even if they do, however, there's still the problem that premiums are forever increasing while coverage is shrinking.

The predicament enough to make a person go crazy—but don't! Because your insurance (if you're lucky enough to have any) probably won't cover your therapy.

Treating Eating Disorders and Paying for It [New York Times]

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