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How Will I Pay

Finding a way to afford treatment can be difficult. Below are some things to think about while figuring out how you will pay for it.

Once you have decided on the kind of treatment you want and are ready to make the next step into recovery, visit our Treatment Finder to help you get started in finding treatment.

If you live in a country that provides national health care not all of this information may apply to you, though some of it may be helpful in opening up your options for the type of care you are looking for.

To get started, there are many insurance companies that will now cover mental health care. You should call your insurance company, or send for a policy booklet (or ask your employer) that will tell you how your plan works (HMO, or filing claims for reimbursement, deductibles, etc.) in providing for mental health care treatment. HMO plans will require that you go to your Primary Care Physician first, and from there you can get a referral to a therapist. Some therapists will take your insurance directly, only requiring you to make your co-payment at each visit ($5, $10 or $20), some insurances may dictate that the co-payment for therapy is slightly higher (such as $25 or $35), while others will work on a reimbursement plan (where as you pay for the session first and are reimbursed for a percentage of it later). A number of therapists may be willing to put off accepting payment, or make payment requirements minimal, until your insurance company begins to reimburse you.

You may decide that you wish not to involve your PCP, or that your therapy options through any referral system may be discouraging or unsatisfactory. You should contact your insurance company on how they go about covering for therapy appointments outside of the care of your PCP, through reimbursement or co-payments, and if this is an option for you.

If you or a loved one require immediate medical care at a hospital, your insurance should cover the rehabilitation of any complications arising from an Eating Disorder (such as re-feeding a patient who is malnourished, or treating a heart condition). If you do not have medical insurance or your income is low you should contact Social Services about applying for Medicare/Medicade. No one can be denied standard hospital care based on their ability to pay or not pay. It is against the law.

Many therapists and clinics or treatment centers will work with you. Don't assume that because it is a big establishment you cannot afford it. Call them and discuss what your options are. Many of them will base what you pay on what your income situation is, working on a sliding scale to attempt to accommodate everyone. Many therapists will be willing to reduce their fees and to arrange a payment schedule. Some larger clinics and organizations offer "scholarships" or grants to help people in low-income situations so that long-term recovery care is an option.

Here is a short list of just some organizations that provide scholarships, partial scholarships, free treatment or financial aid:

If you don't have insurance or a way to pay, you should contact as many facilities as possible and ask about financial aid, sliding scale fees and scholarship opportunities. Don't limit your options.

Large facilities such as The Rader Institute will make a special effort to accommodate everyone's needs, whether you require in-patient treatment or out-patient therapy. They can provide all levels of treatment or refer you to a therapist while helping to employ your needs as far as insurance coverage, ability to pay and affordability, etc. They also accept a variety of insurances as well as Medicare.

A number of National Organizations will take your ability to pay and salary into consideration when referring you to therapists or other treatment. There are therapists that leave "slots" open for people who cannot afford to pay, or who can only pay very little, which allows for them to take two or three clients into their case load that cannot afford typical therapy fees or who can not afford to pay at all. A number of therapists are more than willing to negotiate their fees based on income and ability to pay, and how they will accept payment. Make your sure you tell the organization what you can and can't afford before receiving a referral. There is no sense wasting time investigating treatment services you won't be able to afford.

Another option is to contact graduate universities, colleges or mental hospitals that offer psychology as a major, or counseling certification programs. A number of these schools will have intern programs where you can get good therapy from a graduate student fulfilling intern hours. You can usually get this type of treatment at a comparatively low cost. You may also try contacting well established clinics or long-term practicing therapists as they sometimes have interns in their staff that can offer therapy that is just as good at a reduced rate.

In a lot of cases Eating Disorder Treatment is not specifically covered by an insurance company, while other types of emotional and psychological treatment are. There is a strong cross-over between depression and/or anxiety and Eating Disorders and your therapist can logically diagnose you or a loved one with Depression or Anxiety (or other appropriate emotional/psychological disorder such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) to see that your insurance will cover the treatment. This is not uncommon or uncalled for, nor is it unethical.

Many colleges and universities have on-campus health centers, counselors and support groups geared towards assisting students to get mental health care. Services are often low in cost or free. In addition, a number of medical universities and colleges are continuously doing research on Eating Disorders. In these cases often times they will provide you with mental and/or physical health care, and/or medication for free in return for being allowed to use their findings as part of their research. These types of programs are usually available to anyone, student or not, as long as they fit the criteria for research (i.e. certain age groups, gender comparisons, drug effectiveness, etc.) You can often find examples of these research programs available in the Special Bulletins section or within the Treatment Finder.

You can look in your local yellow pages, blue pages or newspaper for support groups. Support groups that are run by a person in recovery, or by volunteers for organizations are very often free, or have minimal "dues". For example, The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders sponsors many local support groups throughout the world that are completely free of charge. Self-help groups such as Overeaters Anonymous and Eating Disorders Anonymous usually offer their meetings free of charge just asking for small donations if you can afford it. When it comes to support groups and self-help groups there are a great number of options available - many of the national organizations will be able to refer you to local chapters and meetings, and there are some example of supports groups run both under the sponsorship of associations, as well as run personally by people in recovery, in the Treatment Finder.

Another option available is to look in your local yellow pages or blue pages under "Community Services" or "Community Service Agencies" in a therapy or counselors section. There should be organizations listed that can provide you with basic mental health care needs, and as they may not be specifically Eating Disorder geared they can still provide you with the basic tools to get you started in recovery. They may also be able to refer you to other local therapy options and support groups that are low-cost and free.

Through the internet there are many ways to find support and even therapy. Most of the support you can find on-line will be, of course, free. Some of the therapy options will be relatively low in cost. Your range of options is anything from on-line pen-pals, newsgroups and discussion forums, speaking with a therapist on-line, Interactive Relay Chat support groups, and bulletin boards. Keep in mind, on-line support does not replace important one-on-one therapy and "real-time" help, but it can be a great and low-cost way to find the support you will need through your recovery. You can begin to browse your options by visiting the Online Support section and our Online Therapy section.

More Articles on This Importantant Topic

*INSURANCE REFORM* Don't forget to send your letter to help initiate health-care reform!

Eating Disorders Coalition -- advancing the federal recognition of Eating Disorders as a public health priority

Anorexics in HMOs Fight for Care

The Renfrew Center Foundation -- Access to Treatment

NAMI -- The Nation's Voice on Mental Illness


:: Toolbox :: Reaching In :: YOU :: Coping ::
:: Motivations :: Affirmations :: Body Image ::
:: Treatment Types :: Questions :: How Will I Pay ::
:: Helpful Books :: Treatment Finder ::

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