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Myriam Hernandez
Nathan Cole
English 2010
The Real Cost Of Eating Disorders
Imagine having a disease that could cause you to die. Now imagine knowing that there is
no real treatment. There is just something that might help you, and you really have no other
option. Even though it might not help, you still have to pay an arm and a leg for this treatment.
This is what people with eat disorders have to go through if they ever want to seek treatment.
Though they do not need to give an arm and a leg, they would have to pay around 30,000 dollars
a month. According to the New York Times:
“Many [patients] must be seen on a weekly basis by a team of specialists, including a
psychiatrist, a physician and a nutritionist. A residential program costs $30,000 a month
on average. And many patients require three or more months of treatment, often at a
facility far from home. Even after leaving a specialized program, patients may need years
of follow-up care.”
So it is not just taking a pill or having something injected into you. It is weekly or maybe
even daily visits to a therapist then your nutritionist and finally to see their general practitioner.
Even though paying out of pocket would cost you so much you would think that people could
use their insurance to pay for most if not all of it. “Yet most insurers will not cover long-term
treatment, and some routinely deny adequate coverage of eating disorders on the grounds that
there is not enough evidence on how best to treat them.” (New York Times, 2010) People with
eating disorders are just taking a shot in the dark when in recovery because the treatment does
not work for everyone, and sometimes it does not help the patient at all.
Jezebel said in one of their articles “how about insurers take some time to learn about
which treatments work? Then again, even if the insurers became experts on eating disorders, it
still wouldn't guarantee a solution for the afflicted. Many policies don't cover the best caregivers

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on the market, leaving patients stuck with choosing doctors who either don't specialize in eating
disorder treatment or aren't all that great at it.” So not only are some insurances not able to cover
the treatment, but if they do cover the treatment they send the patient to someone who is
underqualified to treat you. Jezebel also talked about how some very difficult and hard to
manager mental diseases are still not considered “real” mental illnesses by insurance companies,
and even some doctors do not believe it is a real disease. Though research has shown that it is
real and the disease is increasing. The New York Times said in their article on eating disorders
“Hospitalizations for problems caused by eating disorders grew 18 percent from 1999 to
2006, with the steepest rise among children under age 12 (up 119 percent), followed by
adults ages 45 to 64 (up 48 percent) and men of all ages (up 37 percent), according to
the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.”
Some hospitals or clinics do have or offer financial support or scholarships for patient
with financial struggles. The aide would pay for all the treatment or pay for part of the cost.
Though for those that do not qualify for the scholarships or the financial aid there are at home
treatment options that according to studies has more effect than the other hospital or individual
According to The New York Times “[the at home treatment involves that] for the first two
weeks of treatment, at least one parent must be available around the clock to supervise meals and
snacks, and monitor children between meals to make sure they do not burn off the calories with
excessive exercise.” So it is mainly just around the clock watch to make sure they eat and to
show the person that you are there to help them through this. Dr. Le Grange, of the University of
Chicago, reported that the family approach (Maudsley method) is more effective than individual
therapy and also keeps working even after the treatment ends. The study had 121 patients, mainly
female subjects, and were between the ages of 12-18. They were sent to have a year of either
individual therapy or family therapy. The results stated “Twelve months after the treatment had
ended, 49 percent of those who had been in family therapy were in full remission, more than
double the 23 percent of those who had been in individual therapy. And among patients who
were in remission at the end of the treatment itself, only 10 percent of the family-therapy group

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had relapsed a year later, compared with 40 percent of those who had individual therapy.” (The
New York Times, 2010). According to Eating Disorder hope there are three phases to this
“Phase I – Weight Restoration: In Phase I, a professionally trained therapist
concentrates on the various effects associated with anorexia nervosa, particularly
physiological, cognitive, and emotional. A major focus of this phase is the restoration of
the patient’s weight and the “re-feeding” component. A crucial psychological feature of
this primary phase is substantiating the illness.
Phase II – Returning control over eating to the adolescent: Phase II
encompasses the patient learning to progressively regain control over their individual
eating habits again. This typically commences when the patient’s weight has reached
approximately 87% of their ideal body weight.
Phase III – Establishing healthy identity: This phase is initiated when the patient
is sufficiently able to sustain their weight above 95% of ideal body weight independently
and refrains from engaging in restrictive eating behaviors. Focuses of treatments are
primarily on the psychological consequences the eating disorder has had on the patient
and the establishment of a healthier identity.”
Many studies have concluded that the family-based approach is a lot more effective than
putting the patient in a hospital for months or years hoping they get better. According to Daniel
Le Grange, PhD and James Lock, MD, PhD “approximately two thirds of adolescent [and]
patients are recovered at the end of FBT while 75 - 90% are fully weight recovered at five-year
follow-up…on average no more than 20 treatment sessions over the course of 6-12 months, and
that about 80% of patients are weight restored…” compared to the individual therapy where 23%
were in remission, and out of that 23%, 40% of them had a relapse.
Compared to the 30,000 dollars a month for the other treatment. The family-based
treatment would only cost around 90 dollars and hour for the first phase when you talk to a
therapist about the effects of anorexia and try to create a personal plan for your daughter/son.
The rest of the treatment would just cost you time. The time you spent with the patient when you
monitor and make sure they are eating and that they know you are there for them. Unlike sending

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them to a hospital where you might not be able to see them all the time or see what they are
doing to them, and they still might not get cured in that hospital or those therapy sessions are not
helping for them. In the end if you cannot get financial support with the monthly 30,000 dollar
treatment. You could do the 360 dollar home treatment that you created with a profession
therapist for your child.

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Work Cited
Alderman, Lesley. "Treating Eating Disorders and Paying for It." The New York Times.
03 Dec. 2010. Web. 19 Mar. 2016.
Apple, Lauri. "The Exorbitant Price of Treating Eating Disorders." Jezebel. 04 Dec. 2010. Web.
19 Mar. 2016. <>.
Ekern, Jacquelyn. "Maudsley Method Family Therapy." Eating Disorder Hope. 25 Apr. 2012.
Web. 22 Mar. 2016. <>.
Le Grange, Daniel, and James Lock. "Family-based Treatment of Adolescent Anorexia Nervosa:
The Maudsley Approach." Maudsley Parents. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.
Rabin, Roni Crayn. "Bringing in Family to Combat Anorexia." The New York Times. 18 Oct.
2010. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.