Lawmaker looks to get treatment of eating disorders covered by health plans

The bill has run into blockades in the past due to misunderstandings by representatives, state Rep. Keith Frederick said.
Photo Illustration.

The diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders could be covered under health benefit plans in Missouri.

House Bill 262, a bill sponsored by Rep. Keith Frederick, R-Rolla, would require plans to cover the cost of diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.

The bill was originally introduced five or six years ago but had trouble getting approval from the rest of the representatives due to misunderstandings with the bill, Frederick said.

“One issue with the bill was that many representatives thought it would be too expensive,” he said.

Due to the nature of the bill, many representatives misunderstood what enacting the bill would entail, Frederick said. They thought the bill would require them to pay the difference in the insurance policies.

“If Missouri were to impose additional health benefits that are not included with federal health benefits, the state would be responsible for paying the difference,” Frederick said.

This would mean that the bill would increase the state’s financial obligation.

Another problem that occurred with financing the previous bill was getting approval for coverage for those on Medicare and Medicaid in the state of Missouri.

The proposed bill will only expand payment opportunities for those with insurance policies in the state of Missouri, so students from another state living in Missouri would not be able to benefit from this bill if they are dealing with these health problems.

“I think it’s great that Missouri is trying to acknowledge mental illnesses on the same level of physical illnesses,” MU freshman Abby McLain said. “ I just hope that this can apply to students from other states as well.”

Anorexia nervosa can lead to fainting, fatigue and overall weakness in one’s body. Anorexia also has a 20 percent fatality rate among those with the disorder. Bulimia can lead to peptic ulcers, pancreatitis and potential for gastric rupture from purging.

“Purging is a common weight-loss mechanism among college-aged women,” Frederick said.

Binge eating can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol level and gallbladder disease. With this bill, people would be able to have payment opportunities for the treatment of these disorders.

Frederick’s goal is to have the bill passed by the end of the session and go into effect by this summer. During the executive committee meeting April 15, it was decided that it would be reported to the House with the recommendation that it should pass and be voted on.

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