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Newton Rep. Seeks Coverage For Eating Disorders

Rep. Kay Khan asked members of the Financial Services Committee on Tuesday to include eating disorders as a biological illness, requiring insurance companies to provide full coverage. (Sam Doran/SHNS)
Rep. Kay Khan asked members of the Financial Services Committee on Tuesday to include eating disorders as a biological illness, requiring insurance companies to provide full coverage. (Sam Doran/SHNS)
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The mortality rate for anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder, is the highest of any psychiatric disorder, yet health plans usually don't cover treatment for anorexia until patients experience severe weight loss, Rep. Kay Khan told lawmakers on Tuesday.

The Newton Democrat asked members of the Financial Services Committee to include eating disorders as a biological illness, requiring insurance companies to provide full coverage.

In the case of an adverse determination, the bill would also shift the burden of proof to the insurer rather than requiring the medical provider to justify the treatment as medically necessary, according to Khan's written testimony.

"This legislation is really, really necessary," Khan said. "We don’t have any definition for medical necessity so often these folks have to, they have to lose a lot of weight before it's considered medically necessary to take them into the hospital."

Khan, who is co-chair of the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, told the News Service she has filed the bill (H 893) in prior sessions and she said the impact on health insurance premiums would be minimal.

Khan said more than 11 million Americans have anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, which is also an eating disorder. She said treatment exists, including therapy, and the symptoms of the disorder don't usually go away without treatment.

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