Eating Disorder Professional Treatment - Inpatient And Residential

Inpatient and Partial Hospitalization

If you (the patient) are in grave physical danger and cannot be treated or maintained safely without immediate medical interventions, the mental health professional who is examining you may arrange for intensive treatment. Treatment in a more intense structured setting may also be required if your symptoms are out of control and danger appears immanent. Inpatient treatment involves twenty-four hour care in a medical or psychiatric facility (e.g., an inpatient hospital setting) designed to treat medical complications and restore weight, as well as provide limited therapy.

If you are uncooperative with treatment recommendations and doctors feel that your life is in jeopardy unless you receive intensive intervention immediately, you may be admitted to the hospital against your will in a process known as "involuntary commitment". If you continue to refuse food and nutritional supplements while in the hospital, you may need tube intravenous (I.V.) feedings in order to save your life. Though hospitalization may be involuntary, it does not typically last for long periods of time. The goal of hospitalization is to physically stabilize you, and prevent serious medical complications and death. Insurance companies cover the cost of brief admissions to the hospital only when medically indicated, and justified by qualified physicians.

Sometimes, when you need more support than can be offered through outpatient therapy but less supervision than an inpatient program, you may be advised to attend a partial hospitalization or day treatment program. Although there are few partial and day treatment programs designed specifically for those with eating disorders, these programs are becoming more popular as a alternative to the very high cost of inpatient programs. When attending one of these programs, you attend treatment at a hospital or clinic several days per week for a few hours each day. You will not sleep at the hospital, however, but return to your home in the evening.

Residential Treatment

Residential facilities offer 24-hour care to patients who may not be in acute medical danger but who continue to engage in eating disordered behaviors and as a result need intensive support to continue functioning on a daily basis. For example, people who use binging, self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse, compulsive exercise, and restricted eating and who don't have serious medical problems (yet), and who cannot stop these behaviors without intensive supervision, may be recommended for residential treatment. These programs generally offer specialized treatment, including supervision of behaviors and daily living activities, while still providing patients with opportunities for increasing responsibility for their own recovery. Such programs are often located in medical hospitals or exist on campus-like grounds, estates, or renovated houses. It is rare that insurance companies offer residential benefits to their customers. Often, you and your family must pay "out-of-pocket" (on your own, without insurance benefits) for residential care.

In some circumstances, you may live in a halfway or recovery house, which provide support and relapse prevention within a less structured setting than a typical residential program. These programs offer transitional situations (e.g., between hospital and regular environments) where residents can live with others who are also in recovery. Residents attend group therapy and recovery meetings, and participate in individual therapy either as part of the house program or with an outside therapist. Residents of recovery houses are typically generally free from the worst behavioral, physical and medical eating disorder symptoms and are working toward living in the community again.

Typically, care progresses along a pattern from immediate, life saving interventions in a hospital setting, to partial or residential programs and intensive therapy, to less frequent outpatient therapy sessions. As you gain physical and emotional health (or if your treatment started at a less severe stage), you will then transition to a recovery program or to outpatient services while living at home again. As needed, you may return to more intensive levels of care if your symptoms resurface or you feel out of control once again.

  • Rachael

    I think its actually pretty bad. I believe that atleast some residential programs should accept medicaid or have free treatment or scholarships because people, such as me, i have used up all of my insurance benefits for my LIFETIME and i am recommended to residential by my treatment team but i have no money for it and no one accepts what i have and i know many others have this problem and i think it is really sad. Thats just opinion.

  • Anonymous-1

    Since becoming more aware because of a family member's diagnosis of anorexia, I have found that there isn't much help from insurance. But that same insurance will have to pay when you are hospitalized near death and that cost could be even greater, so I don't understand them at all. If your condition is anorexia, talk to your doctor about medication, there is one that is supposed to help you gain weight, zyprexa. And like the doc told my family some point you have to decide seriously to become a part of your own recovery. I wish you the best.

  • Anonymous-2

    Many insurance companies either don't cover treatment for eating disorders at all or routinely employ a number of trickes to avoid paying for treatment. There's some good information on the Mirasol web site about what you can do to get the most out of your insurance. One thing for sure: YOU need to be the expert! See

  • Patti

    rachael i get what you mean. i'm in a similar boat too. i'm in the process of trying to apply for medicair and disability. try looking into things like "charity care" with hospital programs and grants and scholarships. there are a couple groups that give scholarships like Anna Westin Foundation @ 952-361-3051 or 651-645-5323 and the Freed Foundation @ 908-756-9260. Also there's team braeden ( Anyways i'm in the same mess and i wanted to reach out. best wishes to you. i hope we both can recover.

  • Anonymous-3

    I am in a similar situation, I can't get insurance to cover my daughter for inpatient only for hospital!! I am so frustrated.

  • Anonymous-3

    I think insurance needs to reevaluate covering eating disorders. Its horrible when we have sick children and can't get them care unless we are really rich! I am soo disgusted with the system and feel that something must be done to save our children's lives. Any ideas?

  • Anonymous-3

    I totally agree with all of you and I know we are not alone. I too want to get my daughter in Residential but insurance refuses to pay or even help. They will pay for a hospital inpatient which is only for a short time. How can patients recover from this if insurance does not care. I have tried and I am exhausted and like all of you am not rich. I feel so frustrated and angry and very sad about this. I wish you all the best.

  • Anonymous-4

    I work for Medicaid and we can only enroll facilities if they agree to our rate which is about 400 or 500 per day. Many do not want to as they make more money from private pay. There is a site I found called River Centre Clinic that will let you pay a flat fee for 3 months of care.

  • tara

    I have a ten year old that has Anorexia..I understand all of your comments..I am completely frustrated..I am a single working mom with medical..and can't get the help my daughter needs..she has been admitted into the hospital..discharged..we go from one therapist to the next..physc to the next..etc...on and on..all saying she needs higher care..she needs an inpatient eating disorder program which the insurance will not pay..meanwhile they give us the run around and pay for things that aren't helping..wsting time and money when in all reality is not doing a thing for my has been 4 months now she hasn't eaten 1 bite of food..she lives on ensure plus..they just keep uping her meds..but hey guess what if you are a drug addict they will pay foor inpatient!! I could go on and on for hours about what we have been through..but why..I'm sure you already know..IF YOU KNOW ANYONE ANYWHERE THAT CAN HELP MY DAUGHTER GET INTO AN INPATIENT EATING DISORDER PROGRAM ...PLEASE..LET ME KNOW!!THANK YOU..AND GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU..

  • linda

    Maybe if we got all our kids with anorexia together befor the media and named our insurance co.'s we might get someones attention.