Anna Westin Act Fights for Education, Treatment of Eating Disorders

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As many as 30 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder, but only one in 10 get the treatment they need. And it could be because some insurance companies just aren't covering it.

Anna Westin was diagnosed with anorexia when she was 16. After five years of struggling, she committed suicide. It's stories like Westin's that has a group of U.S. senators saying enough is enough.

"Eating disorders are mental illnesses yet it's an area where we still see huge inequities in the health care system in terms of treating those illnesses which are truly life threatening," said Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.

Baldwin is one of the sponsors of the Anna Westin Act, a bill focusing on the education and treatment of eating disorders. The bill would use existing funds to create grant programs to help train school counselors, doctors and parents recognize these dangerous disorders.

"It can be very fatal at times," said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.

When Westin needed to be hospitalized, her insurer refused. Capito says this legislation would require health insurance companies to cover residential treatment for eating disorders.

"Eating disorders have to be treated as a mental health condition and should be covered by insurance," Capito said.

Both senators say they hope the bill gives people suffering from eating disorders the same access to life saving treatment as those with other illnesses.

If your treatment is denied you can always appeal the decision by phone and write a letter to the insurance company.

For more information on the Anna Westin Act and eating disorders, visit the links on this page.