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Fri., Oct. 14, 2011, 7:47 a.m.

Battling a disease…and disordered insurers

A recent New York Times story reports the battle that people who suffer with eating disorders are fighting: insurance company wars. 

 I was stunned to read the following:

  "An estimated 11 million Americans, mostly young women, suffer from eating disorders…These disorders, particularly anorexia, have the highest fatality rate of any psychiatric disorder."

 The highest fatality rate of any psychiatric disorder and residential treatment coverage is often denied?

 I have a friend - a lovely 24-year-old woman - who has struggled with this disease. Last year she received care at a residential treatment center for eating disorders; this center addresses the psychological, medical, nutritional, spiritual, and relational needs of their clients. She stayed longer than she initially thought she would. She returned home strong, confident and understanding herself and her needs. The care she received tended to her body, but also her wounded spirit. Today, I listen to her courage, her humor and the joy in her life as she achieves her goals, sets needed boundaries with others and cares for herself. The path can be difficult, but she has the strength and support now to travel that road. She is so worthy of a healthy life.

 In healthcare we proclaim that we care for "the whole person." It is time that insurance companies understand that human persons are integrated, complex beings; insurers must listen to the voices who know best: the patients themselves.

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