How to Navigate Insurance Coverage for Eating Disorder Treatment

If you or a loved one is seeking treatment for eating disorder recovery, there’s a good chance that you might be concerned about finances.

Comprehensive and specialized eating disorder treatment is the most effective and necessary course for recovery and is offered at different levels of care, depending on the severity of the eating disorder. Treatment can become costly, especially as effective care may require persistent efforts over extended periods of time at each stage of recovery.

For many individuals seeking healing from an eating disorder, covering the cost of treatment may not be possible without health insurance coverage. The task of navigating insurance coverage for eating disorder treatment can feel like an impossible task, but this is a necessary step to determine what financial support you may have available to get the care that you need and deserve.

Understanding Mental Health Insurance Coverage

The good news is that insurance coverage for mental health conditions, such as eating disorders, is improving for the better, giving individuals who need treatment increased opportunities to connect to the care they need.

In 2008, The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was passed, requiring coverage of services for mental health, behavioral health, and substance use disorders to be comparable to that of physical health coverage [1]. This means that if your health insurance provides mental health benefits, there cannot be more restrictive requirements for than those that apply to physical health benefits.

In addition, the Affordable Care Act also requires that health care plans offered through the insurance exchange program cover services for mental health and substance use disorders. This means that a considerable number of major insurance companies and providers do offer mental health benefits for treatment.

How to Find Out What Your Insurance Covers for Eating Disorder Treatment

The first step for getting insurance coverage for eating disorder treatment, which is a mental health condition, is to determine if your insurance provider offers mental health benefits. The description of your plan benefits should include information on coverage for mental health disorders. However, if you are still unclear about mental health coverage provided by your insurance, here’s how you can gather more information:

  • Human Resources: If your health insurance is provided through your employer or place of employment, speak directly with your human resources department. They should be able to provide you with information about your health benefits.
  • Direct Contact: Call your insurance company directly to discuss your health care plan and to determine exactly what is provided for mental health care. Your insurance company can also give you more information about types of treatment that are covered (such as inpatient, residential, etc.), duration of treatment and any required prior authorizations. Many insurance companies are in-network with specific eating disorder treatment centers and providers and can likely give you with a list of options that would be covered under the umbrella of your healthcare policy.
  • Eating Disorder Treatment: In other situations, you can directly coordinate with an eating disorder treatment facility, who can help you determine what kind of mental health coverage you might have under your current policy. If working with your insurance company is confusing or overwhelming, a representative from a treatment facility, like The Meadows Ranch, can directly coordinate with your insurance provider. Intake coordinators can be helpful advocates in the process of connecting to the treatment you need to begin your recovery journey.

In most cases, the first step to begin the process of obtaining insurance coverage for eating disorder treatment is to have a full assessment completed in order to determine the best course for action. This can be done by a primary care provider, an eating disorder specialist and/or psychiatrist, or as part of the intake process for eating disorder treatment.

Receiving a full assessment and documentation with diagnosis and physical/psychological concerns can help in developing the best plan for treatment and for obtaining the benefits you are entitled to under your insurance contract.

Getting the Help You Need When Finances are a Struggle

In many cases, figuring out the financial piece of eating disorder treatment is often a deterring factor for many individuals who are seeking out the care they need. However, putting off necessary and comprehensive treatment can be fatal in many cases, as eating disorders are severe mental health conditions that warrant professional interventions.

It may feel intimidating, even overwhelming, knowing how to get your eating disorder treatment covered by your health insurance, but you don’t have to navigate this journey alone.

At The Meadows Ranch, our top priority is to do everything possible to ensure that you are getting the exact treatment you need and deserve. Our knowledgeable intake staff and financial coordinators can assist you with financial planning and navigating coverage with your insurance provider. We will walk with you every step of the way so that you can focus on your recovery and get the support you need to change your life’s story. Connect with us today and learn how we can help you start your eating disorder treatment.


[1]: American Psychological Association, “What you need to know about mental health coverage”, Accessed 2nd Oct 2018