Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Eating Disorder Treatment and Medicare and Medicaid

It is of concern to me that many disabled, older, and low income individuals in our country may be going without needed eating disorder treatment, because most eating disorder treatment providers do not accept Medicare or Medicaid.  It seems that only eating disorder treatment at some hospitals accept Medicare and/or Medicaid.

I have Medicare insurance and have been fortunate to have had some individual therapy and my residential treatment covered in part by Medicare.   But in my experience with working at The National Association for Males with Eating Disorders (NAMED), I have not come across any therapists who accept Medicare or Medicaid and most facilities and centers with eating disorder programs do not accept Medicare or Medicaid.

Those most challenged in life due to disability, aging, and financial insecurity are being forced to go without needed treatment.  They should not have to deal with this additional burden of their disease when treatment is available.

If you are a treatment provider reading this and you don’t accept Medicare or Medicaid, I would encourage you to reconsider accepting these insurance plans, in order to be more inclusive of those you serve.

For further information on insurance and paying for treatment, visit www.NAMEDinc.org/insurance.asp and www.bulimia.com/client/client_pages/newsletter10.cfm.


Questions for Discussion (Reply to Chris@NAMEDinc.org)

  1. Do you have Medicare or Medicaid? 
  2. If so, are you in treatment and where OR are you not in treatment and  why?
  3. Has the lack of eating disorder providers accepting Medicare or Medicaid hindered you from getting the treatment or the quality of treatment you need or needed?


6 Responses to “Eating Disorder Treatment and Medicare and Medicaid”
  1. Katie Lueck says:

    I was put on permanent disability due to my severe eating disorder and i am what they cal ” End of life stage anorexic” but cannot find anyone who will help me. I have had numerous infusions of potassium , a smart port in my chest , G tube JG tube Nasal tube and many more painful operations. I live in silence but also have primary custody of my three children 11, 10 and 8. I am tired of living like this but am so far gone that I am asking please would someone help me out there. My kids need me, I want to see them grow up.

  2. Mega Heart says:

    1) I have both Medicare and Medicaid; I have been on Medicare since 2002; I was 27 y/o when it officially went into effect, which was two years after I was legally disabled. Twice during that time I have nearly lost my life to an eating disorder.

    2) I am not in treatment, but wish I could be. I have exhausted local “treatment,” which, admittedly, is non-existent. It’s a health crisis that doesn’t just affect those on Medicare and Medicaid. However, for those physically disabled, not being able to get help locally or at a residential treatment center utterly shuts down the possibility of treatment.

    3) This is definitely a problem with ED treatment!!! Last year this time my health was utterly shredded. I had not had anything more solid than a full liquid diet in five years. My BMI was dangerously low. My dentition is awful–neither had I been able to get dental in over eight years of this time frame. It was unavailable to those on Medicare/Medicaid in my state, and even now their treatment of choice is to pull all my teeth and put me in dentures; I’m not even forty, but this is the kind of dental available to me. Of the first teeth I lost it now appears I have bone erosion so bad as to not allow support of dentures. That’s okay. They don’t know how to treat CRPS locally. I’ve had it predicted I will be either dead or in a nursing home, bed-ridden, by age 45. I fought hard and have achieved amazing results, but I feel myself slipping. It is hard when it seems everyone has given up on me, as being somehow second class and unworthy of the most basic treatments. I have a dermatological emergency that has spanned over five years. I have a breast lump. I have a neuromuscular condition, CRPS. Dental problems more than I can count. Guess I don’t count either, especially now that my daughter is nearly grown. 18, she will walk the line on my 40th birthday, then I truly cease to matter at all.

  3. Becky says:

    I’ve been fortunate as I do have one facility that provides inpatient, PHP, and outpatient services to eating disorder patients male and female of all ages. However, I find myself in a new position. I’m now a single mom of a 3 year old without much support. I could maybe do IOP, but that’s one of the only things that Medicare doesn’t cover at the center. There’s another treatment facility near mute, Renfrew, but I believe they do not take Medicare at all. Also, in case anyone needs the name it’s the center for Eating Disorders in Towson/Baltimore Maryland.

  4. Angela says:

    We are struggling with this right now. My daughter has been fighting anorexia for 8 years. She was found disabled due to extreme depression, anxiety and anorexia. Therefore, she is on Medicare and Medicaid. She just turned 26 and is no longer also covered on private insurance and Medicare is the Primary insurance. She has gotten so bad that she is in an inpatient facility – but they don’t treat eating disorders. Subsequently it is so stressful in there that she is not eating anything. Meanwhile, I am calling every Eating Disorder in-patient/Residential place in the country only to find that NOT ONE takes Medicare. In addition, I used the search feature on Medicare.gov only to be extremely disappointed. They DO NOT keep the list updated. There were about 15 doctors that were part of a group that has been closed. All of the rest of the doctors said they were not taking new patients or they were not taking new MEDICARE patients. I am beyond disgusted, frustrated by this insanity. I am convinced that this is a BIG issue of why we have so many homeless people in need of Mental health services.

  5. Barbara says:

    I see nothing has changed. I have read countless websites of people who “can” help my daughter, but not if your poor. I was offered a $25 discount because the Doctor felt bad for me, She would only charge me $150 a visit, 3 times a week. no credit cards, cash only before the appointment. I am not poor poor but $1800 a month, I would have to give up our home and live on the street. Oh and I would have to also see the nutritionist she works with who also does not accept medicaid, so I guess buying food is out. I would do anything to help my daughter watching her punish herself is killing me, and her but I cannot give you what I do not have. Why is it like this?

  6. Vera says:

    This year I was able to apply for Medicaid and attend a Partial Hospitalization Program in my state, however the insurance did NOT cover any sort of outpatient so 25 days later I was thrown back out into the real world feeling worse than ever and with no resources. My disorder has transformed and worsened since then. Desperately seeking help, I was able to jump through hoops and apply for a Medicaid program sponsored by the state under the name of a private insurance. I was told that this would open up many more options for me. IT CHANGED NOTHING. I can EASILY receive treatment for other types of recovery but this disorder is killing me and controlling me much in the same way if not WORSE than other addictions that I have overcome and no one will accept my insurance! Every day is a nightmare. The lack of available treatment is only perpetuating the shame and loneliness that this disorder needs in order to exist.

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