Chicago, Illinois - The American Medical Association (AMA) adopted new policy urging equal health care access and payment for eating disorders. Although current federal law mandates parity in benefit levels for eating disorders, many payers do not offer parity of services, effectively excluding eating disorders from mental health parity.
"Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, but too often a patient's care is determined by their insurance company instead of their health needs," said former AMA Board Chair Barbara L. McAneny, M.D. "With only one in 10 patients with an eating disorder receiving treatment and with psychological intervention widely accepted as a critical component of care, ensuring mental health parity in benefits will save lives."
The policy builds on existing AMA policy related to eating disorders, mental health parity and body image. The AMA already encourages payment for physical and behavioral health care services on the same day and for Medicaid to pay for those services in school settings. Additionally, the AMA supports increased funding for research on diagnosis, prevention and treatment of eating disorders, including research on the effectiveness of school-based primary prevention programs for pre-adolescent children and their parents.