Insurance Coverage for Anorexia Treatment & Eating Disorders

Anorexia treatment can be expensive. For example, outpatient care can cost more than $100,000. Inpatient treatment can cost much more. Most insurance plans cover medical treatments, including nutritional support, and plans may also cover counseling services. But the coverage limits can vary dramatically from one plan to another. You can learn more about insurance options to find out more.

Will Insurance Cover Anorexia Treatment?

Most insurance plans cover some form of treatment for anorexia and other eating disorders. However, the extent to how much of treatment may be covered is dependent on your particular insurance plan, the state you reside, and the severity of your disorder.

How to Check Anorexia Insurance Coverage

What Is Anorexia?

Anorexia is a disorder that affects the body and a person’s overall health by distorting one’s sense of self-image. It inflicts sufferers with a compulsive desire to lose weight and, often, a total aversion to food, as well.

Around 8 million Americans suffer from eating disorders like anorexia.1 It affects people from all walks of life, but it is more common in women. The Office of Women’s Health notes 85-95 percent of all people battling anorexia are female.2 In addition, the disorder affects a large proportion of teenagers and young adults.

Red flags that signal the possibility of anorexia include:

  • Emaciation
  • Overwhelming fear of weight gain
  • Menstrual irregularities or absence
  • Hair loss
  • Excessive exercising
  • Persistent dieting
  • Caloric intake restriction or total refusal to eat anything

Treating anorexia is an ongoing process, and it can take several years for individuals to really feel stable in their recovery. Getting help is essential for both short-term and long-term health. Without treatment, anorexia only worsens.

The National Association of Anorexia and Anorexia-related disorders reports that over 10,200 deaths occur each year as a direct result of this mental illness. Eating disorders are second in fatality rates only to opioid overdoses in the United States, making them one of the most deadly mental illnesses.3

The Eating Disorders Coalition reports outpatient treatment for anorexia can cost more than $100,000. Most insurance plans cover counseling services, such as individual and family therapy, which are crucial to overcoming the disorder. Treatment for anorexia also often warrants the need for weight gain programs in which clients have supervised diets that will help them to put on weight. Caloric intake is monitored, as is behavior to make sure individuals don’t try to hide, throw away, or purge food.

When Addiction Contributes to Anorexia

Many who live with anorexia will attempt to control their hunger pangs with appetite suppressants, some of which are addictive.

Often, these individuals resort to stimulants as a way of dampening their appetite and speeding up their heart rate and metabolism. Popular drugs of abuse include cocaine and prescription drugs like Adderall, Concerta, and Ritalin.

Insurance Coverage for Eating Disorders

While a chosen treatment center can provide guidance on coverage and costs an individual may be responsible for, one’s insurance company is the best resource for this information. Important questions to ask include:

  • Is medical detox for substance abuse a covered benefit?
  • Will coverage be applied for both inpatient and outpatient forms of care?
  • Is nutritional counseling covered?
  • For what duration is treatment covered, and how many trips to rehab are covered during a policy year?
  • Is there a copay for services or medications?
  • What is the policy’s deductible?

Traditionally, medical detox is carried out in a supervised manner in which clients are weaned off the substances they have been abusing, often with withdrawal symptoms treated with medication. There are no medications approved for the treatment of anorexia; however, medications may be prescribed to treat other mental health issues that contribute to anorexia or hinder treatment, such as benzodiazepines to treat the anxiety that many individuals experience related to eating.

Anorexia often warrants the need for inpatient or partially hospitalized care so treatment professionals can make sure the client is eating a balanced diet, or eating at all. Across the country, 835 facilities are available to treat clients with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse issues through partial hospitalization.4 Many of these facilities specialize in the treatment of eating disorders.

Some insurance companies only make payments toward outpatient care when substance abuse is the primary issue cited for treatment.

It’s important to clarify the need for tandem treatment of both anorexia and substance abuse or addiction to insurance companies and rehab clinics.

Special dietary needs must be considered with clients suffering from anorexia. Nutritional counseling is usually a mandatory part of most treatment programs for people with eating disorders. Since addiction and anorexia are both chronic conditions that may require subsequent trips to rehab to treat cases of relapse, individuals should check with their insurance providers regarding time and frequency of treatment limitations. Be clear on any copayments and deductibles that are due prior to payments being made by the insurance company.

Medicaid provides many forms of behavioral health coverage for the 71.1 million people who have an insurance plan through Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) in the United States.5 If one doesn’t have sufficient insurance coverage, many facilities offer sliding scale payment options and payment assistance programs. In addition, several states offer grants to help fund treatment services for people with financial hardships.

Verify Your Insurance

Please note that American Addiction Centers facilities do not treat anorexia or other eating disorders. Our tools are meant to help those searching for more information on insurance coverage for anorexia and other eating disorders. To discover whether your insurance plan covers eating disorder treatment, it’s best to call your insurance provider or check with the treatment provider you are considering.

Sources

  1. American Psychological Association. (2001). Eating disorders on the rise. 
  2. Department of Health and Human Services (2009). Anorexia Nervosa.
  3. National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders (2020). Eating Disorder Statistics. 
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2011). Clients with Substance Use and Eating Disorders.
  5. Medicaid. (2020). State Health System Performance. 
Last Updated on November 5, 2020
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