No insurance? No cash? No dice.

"This disease takes our best and brightest."

Words spoken from a glassy-eyed father, arms folded in defeat, as he tells of his once genius-level violin playing daughter who can now barely hold down a part-time job. 

"Where will she go?"

Inquires a small business owner, and mother of a 17 year old anorexic daughter, as she fights back tears to explains that her daughters insurance coverage will soon expire.

"I am here for my daughter."

Echos a voice in the back, where a proud mother and her elegant, college-aged daughter are seated united for their cause.

These and many others spoke at the NEDA STAR Program Legislative Hearing in Madison, WI on March 17th. I was honored to attend and take part in this changing day for eating disorder sufferers. 

The Worldwide Charter for Action on Eating Disorders big. Really big. 

Here's why:

This legislation will require insurance coverage for eating disorder sufferers. No more bogus assessments, no more worrying about random discharge from inpatient, and finally there will be official recognition for this mental disease.

Here's what you can do:

1) Sign the charter….this takes 6.2 seconds, please do it now!

This is a global, worldwide initiative with major supporters and lobbyists on our side.

2) Rally.

Find your government official in your US State or Country of Residence, and participate in the STAR event in your area. If you missed the event in your area, find out who is in charge and call them to find out how you can get involved.

3) Stalk.

Legislators literally say they have a "rule of ten," meaning if 10 people call or email on a certain issue they will take notice. T-E-N, that's insane how low it is! Please, please, please call and email your legislator. Post back here to let us know who you did your part!

US State Representatives

Other Countries: Please send me links to your government representatives for me to post.

4) Talk

Start talking to people you know and educate them on why this matters. Ask them to sign the charter or make a call.

From the bottom of my heart,

Thank you!



PS In the meantime, here is some information to help you deal with insurance problems in the US:

How to navigate insurance issues

Other Countries: Please send me links to post.

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10 Responses to No insurance? No cash? No dice.

  1. Melissa says:

    Thank you for presenting a tangible action item for us to do, MamaV.

  2. FreeEternally says:

    I don’t think this should just be for eating disorders though. Mental illness in general needs to be covered in the same way you are saying eating disorders should be.
    Many times serious eating disorders have other mental problems thrown in the mix. I know that it is legal for insurance companies to limit days that can be spent receiving treatment for depression and such. Maybe meantion to have it not only for eating disorders but for every mental disorder…if you are contacting them why not bring up a similar topic that is not addressed all that much.

  3. mamaV says:

    Hi Free Eternally: Mental Health coverage as a whole is addressed under the Mental Health Parity Act which passed last year. This act is to bring equality in coverage whether it is for physical health or mental health.
    Read more here:
    The latest news on this is this was supposed to go into effect in Oct 2009, and it may now be delayed until 2010.

  4. FreeEternally says:

    That act does not actually bring equality. If you read it it is still legal to impose limits to the number of visits or days allowed receiving treatment and to impose unequal copayments for psychiatric treatment.
    The Mental Health Parity Act has such huge loopholes that it does not actually address many major issues.
    Legally under that act my insurance company tells me that I am only allowed 30 days a year max. in the hospital for psychological care but I can stay however long I would like if I broke my leg or if my asthma was flaring. I also only have the option of seeing a therapist 40 times max. in one year. But if I stop treatment against medical advice than the insurance company does not have to pay anything from before they started denying benifits. And I do not even have one of the small insurance things that are exempt from the laws.

  5. PTC says:

    10 people…that’s it?!! That’s crazy. Who knew it would be that easy to get some attention.

  6. dub says:

    This is a good cause and all but I agree with FreeEternally, why not address all mental health issues?
    And maybe I’m being overly sensitive, but I find the “This disease takes our best and brightest” mentality to be disturbing. Not to pick on eating disorders. I’ve also heard similar sentiments expressed for other illnesses such as schizophrenia. So if someone isn’t a top student or a brilliant musician or a star athlete then her plight is somehow less tragic than that of a C student who falls victim to a mental illness?

  7. mamaV says:

    Hi Free Eternally and dub: Thanks for your comments.
    FE: I obviously don’t know all the ins and outs of the Mental Parity Act, and like everything else there are loopholes. BUT we have to believe this is a step in the right direction.
    dub: I was painting the picture of what occured in a particular meeting, a devistated father expressing himself about his daughter. I certainly didn’t mean to convey that those with EDs are somehow superior to others with mental illness, or someone who is not “intelligent” (in my view “best and brightest” can also mean someone who is not book smart but instead socially intuitive.

  8. FreeEternallly says:

    There is actually a correlation between severe mental illness and high creativity, intellegence and stuff like that. The book Touched with Fire is a fabulous exploration of the idea focusing specifically on the correlation between bipolar and creative people in history. Ironically some of times greatest contributors were mentally ill.

  9. Heidi says:

    I signed it. I also sent it to 10 friends to sign. And posted a bulletin on my myspace for people (120 friends) to sign it!!
    I hope it helps!

  10. dub says:

    MamaV: I know you were just expressing what was said at a particular meeting. I’m not saying that “you” have this attitude that people suffering from EDs are somehow “superior” to people suffering from “other” mental illnesses. I’m saying that I sense this attitude from family members of ED sufferers. Whenever I read about EDs I always hear parents complaining in horror about their daughters being “thrown into a psychiatric ward”. Ummm, anorexia nervosa is a psychiatric illness so what’s so wrong with being put into a psychiatric ward? One article even quoted a father saying, “They threw her into a general psych ward with a bunch of schizophrenics.” That definitely sounds elitist to me. As if the father doesn’t want his daughter to associate with “those” people. I mean, who cares about the dirty, crazy schizophrenics? But his precious little straight A student daughter deserves special treatment, right? I doubt that a parent of a leukemia patient would be able to get away with saying, “Oh my god! They threw her into an oncology ward with those brain cancer patients!”
    Yes, I know that eating disorders require specialized treatment. But you could say that about all mental illnesses. How come they have treatment centers devoted exclusively to EDs but you don’t see treatment centers devoted exclusively to schizophrenia?
    I’m not saying that “you” have an elitist attitude when it comes to mental illnesses. I’m saying that this seems to be a general SOCIETAL attitude.
    I’m not belittling or trivializing the experiences of ED patients. Instead, I would like to see ALL mental illnesses being treated with the same COMPASSION.
    Do you think there is a sense of elitist among parents of ED patients? I’d like to know what other people think. I don’t know if I’m being overly sensitive or if I might actually be right.

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