Missouri has become the first state in the nation to expound on the types of eating disorder treatment that insurance companies must cover. The law, championed by eating disorder advocates and signed by Governor Jay Nixon in June, will go into effect in August of 2015. This critical measure will help to ensure that eating disorder clients receive coverage for the treatment necessary to enter into and maintain recovery.
The legislation comes in the wake of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 that, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, was meant to ensure that insurance requirements and limitations for mental health treatment were no more prohibitive than those for medical care. Despite these parity laws, clients and families have often endured complications from eating disorder treatment that was terminated prematurely due to lack of insurance coverage. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, requiring both physical and psychological treatment for sustainable recovery. Patients released from treatment programs too soon run a high risk for relapse. Early, appropriate care is essential. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), the recovery rate for an eating disorder treated within 5 years is 80%. After 15 years without proper treatment, recovery rates fall to 20%.
By fully defining the mental and physical treatment modalities provided by licensed mental health professionals, based on standards of care set forth by the American Psychiatric Association, Missouri’s legislation requires that factors other than weight be accounted for when determining what treatment will be covered. Given the fact that eating disorder symptoms go far beyond behaviors surrounding food, treatment must encompass not only weight restoration and behavior modification but also the discovery of underlying triggers. In other words, it is not just an improved heart rate or a number on the scale that define health. Getting to the bottom of the eating disorder through evidence-based treatment takes time and is medically and psychologically necessary for a chance at lasting recovery. Missouri’s critical action allows this healing to occur by closing the gaps between what needs to be covered and what is actually covered by insurance companies, freeing families from restrictive financial burdens and the risk of premature treatment termination.
Center for Discovery applauds the State of Missouri for standing up for eating disorder treatment!
National Eating Disorders Association: www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
United States Department of Labor: www.dol.gov