FAQ

What are the main types of eating disorders?
Eating disorders diagnoses include Anorexia Nervosa (AN), Bulimia Nervosa (BN), Binge Eating Disorder (BED) and Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OSFED)

What are the different levels of care for eating disorders?
There are five levels of care for eating disorders, each of which may be indicated depending on the specific condition of a given patient. These levels of care—listed from least to most restrictive—include: outpatient program; intensive outpatient program; partial hospital program (intensive day program); residential treatment; and inpatient treatment.

How do I know which level of care is appropriate?
First and always, consult an eating disorder treatment professional. In some cases, symptom management and weight normalization can be achieved in a strictly outpatient setting. However, in other cases, adequate inpatient, residential, and partial hospital treatment, with sufficient outpatient follow-up is absolutely necessary to achieve adequate weight restoration, symptom cessation, and a full recovery. Under such circumstances, eating disorder patients would ideally begin in a more intensive treatment setting and gradually work their way to less intensive care, as indicated. In this manner, treatment may be delivered in the least restrictive setting possible to safely meet the psychological, psychiatric, medical, and nutritional needs of the individual. The residential level of care serves to address the needs of patients who require intensive supervision and treatment to achieve eating disorder behavior change and recovery of weight and health parameters, but who do not require the medically intensive services provided in the inpatient level of care (e.g., intravenous fluids and cardiac monitoring).

What are some of the symptoms of eating disorders?
Symptoms vary across disorder and individual, but can include: food restriction; excessive exercising; binge eating; purging through self- induced vomiting; use of diuretics, laxatives, diet pills, or enemas; and supplement abuse. These conditions also frequently co-occur with symptoms of anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, trauma, and other psychiatric problems.

What are some of the medical consequences of eating disorders?
Classified as mental illnesses, eating disorders also have significant—and sometimes grave—medical consequences. For example, medical complications that ensue when eating disorders are not adequately treated include: osteoporosis, infertility, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, cardiac arrest, kidney failure, and other dangerous medical conditions. In addition, individuals with eating disorders have a higher rate of death from suicide than their peers. Including both suicide and medical complications of the illness, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric illnesses.

How important is access to appropriate care for eating disorders?
Access to appropriate care for individuals with these life-threatening conditions is paramount. Not only can the medical and psychological consequences of foregoing eating disorder treatment be grave; without access to appropriate care, eating disorders can take a chronic course, consuming countless unnecessary health care dollars on ineffective treatments.

Because eating disorders disproportionately afflict young people, the physical, economic, and societal toll of inadequate treatment can be immense. In contrast, individuals who do have access to appropriate care often fully recover and go on to lead productive lives.

How do I know what my insurance benefits are for eating disorders?
One of your first steps is to educate yourself. Read your insurance manual and determine what mental health benefits you have. If you have difficulty understanding the document, call the Customer Service number on the back of your insurance card. You must have accurate information as you move forward.

It is also important to understand which covered treatments are funded through the “health” section of your plan and which are funded through “mental health” section.

At this time it would also help to determine if your state has a Mental Health Parity Law. Mental Health Parity states that insurance companies must not limit mental health care by imposing lower day and visit limits, higher co-pays and deductibles and lower annual and lifetime spending caps. Go to the National Mental Health Associations website and click on “What have states done to ensure Health Insurance Parity” for a complete list of which states have parity.

It is important that you understand the process your insurance company utilizes in administration of your insurance benefits. Call your insurance company and ask them to explain such things as the appeals process, what criteria they use to determine medical necessity and who makes these decisions. As you begin the appeals process, you may find it helpful to have a copy of the APA (American Psychological Association) Guidelines for treating eating disorders. You can find these at: http://www.psychiatryonline.com/pracGuide/pracGuideChapToc_12.aspx

How do I know if a center is accredited? What does that accreditation mean?
Centers will display related accreditations on their websites and in the program spaces. Accreditation means a program or center has met an established set of criteria as set forth by the accrediting agency. Accrediting bodies have information related to programs achieving accreditation on their websites.

How do I know if a treatment facility truly treats eating disorders comprehensively?
All programs should be able to describe their approach to comprehensive eating disorder treatment. Some facilities that offer residential eating disorder treatment treat only or primarily a population of individuals with eating disorders. Others offer treatments for multiple populations or a variety of mental health issues in addition to eating disorders. Ask questions until you are satisfied the residential eating disorder program will meet your unique needs. REDC members agree to follow minimum residential eating disorder treatment standards.