How Much Can Treatment for an Eating Disorder Cost without Insurance?
The cost of treating an eating disorder varies drastically based on several factors. These factors include whether or not hospitalization is required, insurance status, type of eating disorder, and the types of clinicians necessary for your treatment. Typically, individuals will need a team of providers for eating disorder treatment. Programs can cost anywhere from $30,000-$40,000 per month for inpatient eating disorder treatment.
Based on the severity of your condition, there are several therapeutic options for treating an eating disorder. For medically stable individuals, outpatient programs can be considered. These programs usually consist of going to a treatment facility a few times a week but being able to still live at home. These are typically cheaper than other options.
Inpatient hospital treatment is recommended for individuals who are not medically stable and require more intensive medical treatment. Inpatient treatments are the most expensive option but might be mandatory for specific individuals.
If an individual does not meet the qualifications for hospitalization but still requires daily medical support, a residential facility can be a great option. These programs offer 24/7 assistance without hospital-level costs. The following chart outlines the different types of therapy locations and their respective costs.
Cost of Different Therapy Locations
|Type of Location||Cost||Duration|
|Inpatient Stay||$19,000||2 weeks|
|Residential facility||$10,000 for 30-day stay||45-60 days|
|Day Treatment Programs||$7,000-10,000 for a 6-week period||3-7 days a week for 3-5 hours each day|
Consultation Costs From Different Providers
Regardless of what type of facility you choose, there are a number of providers that will be necessary for your treatment. The following outlines common psychotherapy practitioners that will help you recover.
|Common Providers for Eating Disorder Treatment||Cost||Therapy Provided|
|Clinical Psychologist||$75 to $200+||Psychotherapy and Medication Monitoring|
|Mental Health Social Workers||$100-$200 per session||Psychotherapy|
Dieticians for Eating Disorders
Dieticians are typically the gold standard for nutrition-related rehabilitation therapy for individuals with eating disorders. These clinicians will be an integral part of an eating disorder treatment program; it is essential to understand the different types of nutritionists and dieticians and how to choose the appropriate one.
There are different types of licensing for nutritionists and dieticians. Anyone can call themselves a Nutritionist or Dietician, but the most reliable providers will have board-certified licensing. Several other boards can certify nutritionists. Some certifications are listed below:
- Certified Nutritional Consultant (CNC)
- Board Certification in Holistic Nutrition (BCHN)
- Certified Nutritional Professional (CNP)
- Certified Nutritional Specialist (CNS)
- Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist (RDN)
When choosing a new dietician or nutritionist, it is essential to look out for these certifications. These certifications tell you that a particular provider has completed an exam or schooling that backs up their credentials and work.
Get Mira - Health Benefits You Can Afford.
Get doctor visits, lab tests, prescription, and more. Affordable copays. Available in 45+ states. Only $45/month on average.
Insurance Coverage of Dieticians
Whether or not your insurance covers your nutrition consultation visit will vary depending on your type of insurance, the reason for the consultation, and the clinic itself. Several clinics do not take any insurance, which means that all patients will have to pay out-of-pocket.
Government-funded healthcare programs like Medicare might cover nutrition consultations based on the reason for the consultation. For instance, patients who require dialysis will be fully covered when they visit a dietitian for counseling. However, Medicare will likely not cover your visit if you are going for reasons other than renal disease/kidney failure.
Private Insurance Plans
Private insurance plans will differ drastically regarding nutrition consultations. For those clinics that accept insurance, some patients might be fully covered. In contrast, some patients might have to pay for the visit entirely out-of-pocket. Your coverage will depend on the type of service you are receiving and certain diagnoses.
Receiving a diagnosis that requires a nutritionist consultation will increase the chances of your visit being fully or partially covered by insurance. Make sure you speak with your primary care physician before consulting a nutritionist. Some clinics will provide you with a superbill which you can then bring to your provider for reimbursement. A superbill is a receipt allowing patients to bill their insurance company directly.
Eating Disorder Medical Costs
It is important to note that medication for eating disorder treatment comes secondary to psychotherapy and nutritional rehabilitation. However, there are several medications recommended in adjunct to robust psychotherapy programs. Antidepressants such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are most commonly prescribed for eating disorders.
Please note that many of these medications are not FDA-approved for eating disorders. Your prescriber will use their discretion to determine the most effective pharmacological therapy for you.
Costs of Pharmacological Treatments for Eating Disorders
|Type of Disorder||Recommended Pharmacologic Treatment||Cost|
$16.86 for 30 20mg capsules
$72.63 for 30 5mg tablets
|Bulimia Nervosa||Fluoxetine (Prozac)||$16.86 for 30 20mg capsules|
|Binge Eating Disorder|
$385.54 for 30 50mg capsules
$21.90 for 30 25mg tablets
Virtual care for only $25 per visit
Virtual primary care, urgent care, and behavioral health visits are only $25 with a Mira membership.
Costs of Laboratory Testing for Eating Disorders
A number of laboratory tests and blood work need to be performed for adequate diagnosis and subsequent monitoring of eating disorder management. These tests can be incredibly costly without insurance and range anywhere from $100 to over $1000. Tests that will need to be performed include:
- Complete Blood Count (CBC): can diagnose anemia which is a core symptom of some eating disorders
- Comprehensive Metabolic Profile (CMP): glucose levels, electrolytes, liver enzymes which can demonstrate that an individual is deficient in certain nutrients
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): can monitor your heart status to see if there are any abnormal rhythms
- Thyroid tests: can evaluate if there is another reason for weight loss
Eating Disorder Treatment Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some frequently asked questions to help you better understand what a dietician does and how they can help you.
What eating disorders can dieticians help with?
Dieticians can help with a number of eating disorders. The most common being:
- Anorexia: characterized by a severely low body-mass index (BMI)
- Bulimia Nervosa: characterized by binging food followed by acts of purging (self-induced vomiting or excessive exercise)
- Binge Eating Disorder: characterized by feelings of impulsivity and lack of control where an individual eats excessive amounts of food in one sitting
What are the warnings signs of an eating disorder?
There are numerous emotional and behavioral warning signs regarding eating disorders. These signs are important to be aware of in yourself and others around you, as treating these disorders early leads to more successful outcomes. Some warnings signs to be mindful of are the following:
- Excessive dieting and weight loss
- Obsession over calories, food choices, and food labels
- Refusal to eat certain foods or general pickiness
- Avoiding eating around other individuals
- Severe physical insecurity
- Fluctuations in weight
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
- Loss of menstrual cycle in women
- Sleep disturbances
What are the risk factors for eating disorders?
Aside from warning signs, numerous risk factors may put some individuals at higher risk of developing an eating disorder. Several genetic, mental, social, and environmental factors can lead to an increased risk of eating disorder development.
- Adolescent individuals or individuals in their early 20s
- Individuals with first-degree relatives that also have eating disorders
- Psychological disorders, including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Obsessive personality
- Perfectionist personality
Ultimately, eating disorders can be challenging to manage and treat, especially with the high costs of institutionalized therapy and medical costs. Blood work can be a critical diagnostic factor for eating disorders, and its essential to get routine blood work done. When deciding which treatment plan is best for you, discussing it with your doctor is essential.
Sophie is a 2024 Pharm D. candidate studying pharmacy at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She has a passion for healthcare and writing and hopes to make meaningful contributions to healthcare transparency and accessibility. In her free time, she likes to take care of her houseplants, cook, and hang out with her cat.