AMA Adopts Policy Encouraging Increased Eating Disorder Treatment Access

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On the heels of World Eating Disorders Action Day, the American Medical Association (AMA) is joining the call for equal health care access and payment for eating disorders. The group adopted a new policy yesterday that highlights the current issues preventing access to eating disorder treatment for many people and urging health care providers, lawmakers, and insurance providers to increase access to rehabilitation plans.

Specifically, the group says that despite federal law mandating parity in benefit levels for eating disorders, many payers do no actually offer parity of services. That effectively excludes eating disorders from most mental health coverage.

“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 latest policy expands on previous policies passed by the AMA regarding eating disorder and body image treatment access. According to a press release from the group, the AMA has already released statements encouraging payment for physical and behavioral health care services on the same day and for Medicaid to pay for those services in school settings.

The AMA has also supported increasing 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.

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