Eating Disorder Insurance Coverage

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Courtney Morris
English 101C
30 April 2012
Eating Disorder Treatment Coverage
Every day, various men, women and children suffering from eating disorders reach out for help from professionals; however, only one in every ten will ever receive the treatment they need (“Eating” 3). Anna Westin was twenty-one years old when her long battle with anorexia took her life. At the age of sixteen, Westin was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, and her family felt relieved due to their good insurance policy and early detection; she was put into outpatient treatment, and made quick recovery. It was not until years later Anna relapsed, and the Westin family was informed their “most-ample” insurance plan did not cover mental diseases such as anorexia nervosa, as insurers described the doctor’s requirement for treatment in her critical condition to be “not medically necessary”. After months of dealing with low blood pressure, kidney failure, dizziness and major health disabilities, Anna could no longer hold on, and passed away (Westin). People like Anna Westin exist everywhere, and her story is extremely prevalent around the world. Anna is just one of the nine out of ten people who could not afford treatment or were altogether denied help by insurance companies. Treatment for eating disorders should be covered by all insurance companies due to the increasing research involving genetic factors, neurochemical imbalances, and proliferation of deaths in recent years due to economic situations. Genetic factor involvement in the development of eating disorders has been studied for decades, with great advancements. Most insurance companies refuse to fund treatment because they feel eating disorders are only a mindset, rather than a disease inherited. However, doctors have noticed families with even just one person with an eating disorder make their children twelve times more susceptible to the same or similar eating disorders; twins are also shown to typically inherit eating disorders together due to a shared gene defect (Sohn). In fact, identical twins who are born to an anorexic patient are 60% more likely to develop eating disorders, and fraternal twins are around 14% more likely (Liu 21). Some also analyze the nature v. nurture aspect, where children who are already susceptible are raised in an environment which encourages unhealthy eating habits, finding it is more likely than eating disorders originate from genetic predisposition. Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are thought to be complex disease, meaning they are caused by many different genes and different elements in an environment (Johnson). Dr. David Collier, from Maudsley Hospital in London, studied the 5HT2A receptor, which typically adjusts serotonin levels to tell the brain when the body is hungry; he found the gene for this receptor was varied in patients with eating disorders, possibly causing the brain to convince itself there is no hunger within the body (Genetic). Scientist think anorexia genes could also lie on chromosome 1, and bulimia genes on chromosome 10. Genes like these not only affect body weight, but also personality traits like perfectionism, anxiety, fear, and self-esteem (Johnson). In 2004, The National Institute of Mental Health found a gene mutation which actually connects anorexia nervosa, OCD, depression and obsessive-compulsive personality (OCP). This is why half of anorexics and more than one-fourth bulimics suffer from depression which typically becomes stronger during their eating disorder rather than after recovery (Liu 55). More than two-thirds of anorexics and bulimics have a lifelong history with anxiety disorders; many times eating disorders are used as an escape. To flee the anxiety, sufferers purge their fears by vomiting in order to distract fear with obsession about the body (Liu 19,20). The difficulty in assessing an eating disorder is patients are said to have recovered when they can keep a healthy weight and are not obsessively...
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