Sign on the dotted line

Currently, Illinois is waiting on the governor's signature to make eating disorders treatment part of mandatory health insurance.

You wouldn't leave out Alzheimer's. Or Parkinson's. Or a brain tumor. So why eating disorders? They're brain diseases, too. Just because you can't see the differences by looking directly at someone's brain doesn't mean that they're not just as real.

Of course, the insurance companies have their proverbial panties in a bunch over this. In the Chicago Tribune article cited above, the high cost of eating disorders treatment was cited as a reason the companies didn't want to cover them.

But my insurance covers organ transplants. I have a $1 million lifetime limit on that. If that coverage was suddenly dropped, people would be up in arms.


But if eating disorders were treated properly--early and aggressively--you might have an overall decrease in cost over time. From the Tribune article:

"As with other serious illnesses, early intervention can save victims' lives and insurers' money, before patients end up in the intensive-care unit on a feeding tube, with heart and kidney failure, she and other advocates say. "With cancer, we don't wait until tumors spread throughout the body," Elsner said."

Frankly, eating disorders shouldn't be covered because it's cost effective. They should be covered because they are real illnesses happening to real people and there are real treatments out there.

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Tiptoe said...

Carrie, that last paragraph sums it up! I hope the governor signs it. It would be at least one sign of progress, albeit slow but progress nonetheless.

Hope said...

Good news for Illinois. It's time to recognize ED's for the brain disease that they are, and treat them equally. Let's hope that the Federal Mental Health Parity bill gets passed now that the House and Senate have negotiated a compromise bill.

Claire M said...

YES! This is the issue that keeps me up at night. Insurance discrimination. The funny thing is, even though cost-effectiveness is not the reason to cover eating disorders, treatments for eating disorders and other mental health problems are actually WAY more cost-effective than many treatments that are almost universally covered. For example, numerous studies have shown that knee surgery very often does NOTHING for people, yet insurers are still covering it at $30,000+ a pop, while providing little or no coverage for EFFECTIVE mental health treatments. ARG! Just some support from a policy wonk...

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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