In-"Sure you cover therapy!"-ance issues

I start my new job tomorrow, and I received my "benefits" package in the mail. Aside from the fact that it came in a nice organic cotton tote (inside the mailer), I found information on long-term care insurance, saving for retirement, a health calendar (more later), and yes, health insurance.

I can pick from two plans: an HMO and a PPO. The HMO is much cheaper, but also much more limiting. The PPO has cheaper prescription co-pays, and when you have four different medications you have to take in order to stay sane, keep eating, and not get so depressed you can't get out of bed in the morning, that's important.

So I started looking for behavioral health care, since access to quality therapy is likely going to be the make-or-break decision. What I found was appalling.

There was no mention of behavioral health care in the packet. Okay, fine, there was one mention: in the percentage they would pay from in network vs. out of network for the PPO. That's it.

What I did find was how the various insurance companies would help me pay for the following:

  • Weight Watchers
  • Jenny Craig
  • fitness equipment
  • a FREE pedometer (just call this 1-800 number and it's ALL MINE!)
  • yoga
  • chiropractor
  • massage therapy
  • aromatherapy
  • acupuncture
  • dietitian (so I can be healthy! and lean! and fit!)
No joke. I can deal with the fact that they don't say "If you have an eating disorder..." But there was nada on behavioral health. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

Riiiiiight. Because I have "behavioral issues" not an actual brain disease. Well, hello Mr. Descartes. Nice to see you again.

I also received a health calendar with "tips" for each month- some of which were innocuous, like don't get so stressed out! Take a break! Spend time with your family! Then there was the "Achieve and maintain and healthy weight!" months. Lovely. The worst thing, though, was a teensy little box within the little box for each day where I was told to record how many minutes I had exercised. Way to go obsession! Besides, you're not supposed to exercise every single day. They don't have a take-a-break-from-your-workout box.


We really do live in a world that fosters eating disorder behaviors. And if you do fall down the rabbit hole into a full-blown ED, you can't find diddly squat on how to get treated for it.

Oh, the ironies!


Libby said...

Insurance... ugh. I am so very grateful to be in a position where I can pay for therapy, my dietitian, and my doctor out of pocket and deal with the paltry reimbursement that my insurance company offers me. Of course I do work 60hrs/week at my two jobs... But it was the only way I got professionals who really, truly listened to me. The dietitian who was covered under my insurance? She told me I should never eat grapes or bananas because they were "high calorie fruits" and that my 10K/week swimming program was "really quite reasonable"... *shudder*

mary said...

I look forward to a day when we all have better coverage but more importantly when the money isn't going to a bunch of people treating us who may have a degree but are idiots. Seriously, good help is hard to find and great help, like you've found Carrie with your T, is just plain rare!
I think it's time to sit down at the bargaining table and ask for QUALITY care. Sadly, ins. is business first.I know older folks who are running to the Dr. for all sorts of tests before they retire and lose coverage. Now that's something I never considered doing when I was without ins. for a few years. I bet it's costing them loads more to test people who may not need it but they are too busy counting their change to notice. Imagine if we we took full advantage of everything our ins. covers. Too bad I ain't into being a guinea pig! your title for this post.

marcella said...

Thank God for the NHS floored though it is. One question, if the don't cover "behavioural" issues, why do they have anything to do with Weight Watchers which are an organisation who attempt to change eating behaviours - oh yes, I get it, they're fairly ubiquitous and cheap.

Carrie Arnold said...


I love it. You absolutely hit the nail on the head. And even though relapse rates for EDs are sky-high, it's not 95%-98%, which is how many diets fail. Sigh.

I'm trying to feel fortunate that I have health insurance because I would be royally screwed without it, but my inner cynic is just too strong. Don't they have therapy for *that*? ;)

Jane said...

Okay, I'm not going to get any maturity points for posting this, but every time you mention Cartesian dualism I think of the Maxwell Dorian, Valedictorian video.
The lyrics, in part, go...

mary said...

thanks Jane! LOL

Carrie Arnold said...

Jane...I'm just...I don't know...shaking my head. The lyrics are quite funny, however. Descartes and I never got along, though. My 9th grade geometry teacher told me to catch a plastic bust of him and I was off daydreaming and got hit in the arm. Sigh.

Jane said...

I know. I'm embarrassed.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Carrie. At least the insurance covered a dietician! I found out under my insurance that a dietician wasn't covered unless a person was already diagnosed with diabetes. So even if a person had eating habits that could lead to diabetes, they couldn't actually see a professional about improving them until they actually got the disease. That's prevention for 'ya. An eating disorders diagnosis was not considered grounds for needing nutritional consultation to be covered by insurance.

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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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