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Does Blue Cross Blue Shield Cover Eating Disorder Therapy & Treatment?

Does Blue Cross Blue Shield Cover Eating Disorder Therapy & Treatment?

Does Blue Cross Blue Shield Cover Eating Disorders?

Yes, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee covers inpatient, intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization, and residential treatment for eating disorders, depending on the details of your particular health plan.1 To cover treatment for an eating disorder, qualified eating disorder therapists must make a diagnosis and disclose that diagnosis to your health insurer.

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equality Act of 2008 mandates that insurance companies provide mental health insurance coverage in the same way they treat physical health problems. For example, the law prohibits insurers from charging greater copays for behavioral health visits than medical visits at the same level of care. The parity rule also affects treatment restrictions, mainly abolishing annual session caps that were once standard in mental health programs.

How to Verify Blue Cross Blue Shield Eating Disorder Treatment Coverage

Athena Care is in-network with most major insurance plans. Filling out our free and confidential online insurance verification form is the best way to determine the specifics of your Blue Cross Blue Shield eating disorder coverage.

Let our highly experienced, expert care coordinators handle the difficulties of contacting the insurance company for more information about Blue Cross Blue Shield eating disorder therapy coverage. After completing the form, a care coordinator will review your policy and thoroughly explain your options. Rest assured, all submitted or discussed information remains private.

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Types of Eating Disorders

Each eating disorder has its own set of symptoms and diagnostic criteria.2 Below are six of the most common eating disorders, along with a brief description:

  • Anorexia Nervosa: Anorexia is defined by an abnormally low weight and a strong desire to avoid gaining weight or overeating. Behavior associated with anorexia aims to prevent weight gain at all costs, frequently to the point of malnutrition. As a result, a person with anorexia will appear extremely thin, may have brittle hair and nails, and their skin can appear dry and yellowish, among other signs.
  • Bulimia Nervosa: Binge eating followed by purging characterizes bulimia. When you have bulimia, you may feel guilty or powerless after consuming a significant amount of food. As a result, you attempt to vomit it up. Symptoms associated with bulimia include the usage of laxatives and over-exercising.
  • Binge Eating Disorder: Binge eating disorder, or BED, is a condition in which you regularly overeat. One might also feel terrible about bingeing or as if it’s out of their control. Persons suffering from BED may eat long after they are full, even to the point of discomfort or nausea.
  • Pica: Pica is a disorder in which someone eats non-nutritive objects or substances not regularly consumed in society, like hair, chalk, and dirt.
  • Rumination Disorder: When one easily and regularly regurgitates food without having another medical or gastrointestinal disease, they are said to have rumination disorder. After regurgitation, one may chew and swallow the food or spit it out. Bad breath is a sign of this eating disorder.
  • Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder: Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is comparable to anorexia. Both illnesses limit the amount and/or types of food eaten. However, unlike anorexia, ARFID does not involve concern about body form or size or anxiety about being obese. Some signs of ARFID include refusal to eat certain foods and irrational fear of choking or vomiting.

Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Signs and symptoms of an eating disorder vary by disorder; however, the following are the most common:

  • An inconsistent diet
  • Abnormally low or high body weight
  • Desire to eat alone or secretly
  • Using the bathroom frequently after a meal
  • Obsession with losing or gaining weight quickly
  • Preoccupation with physical appearance and others’ perceptions of one’s body
  • Feelings of guilt and shame about one’s eating habits
  • Experiencing abnormal stress or discomfort about one’s eating habits

What If Blue Cross Blue Shield Doesn’t Cover the Cost?

The cost of eating disorder treatment can vary depending on the level of care needed. There are many different options for behavioral health services in Tennessee, such as residential treatment centers and outpatient behavioral health clinics.

If your Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance doesn’t cover the cost, the following are alternatives for accessing the treatment you need:3

  • Community mental health centers: These low-cost counseling centers can provide treatment, although they may lack specialized care.
  • Family-based treatment (FBT): Adolescent eating disorder treatment can often be a cheaper option than more expensive residential treatment for teens. The focus during FBT is often on the parents, who are responsible for caring for and nourishing their child and disrupting eating disorder habits.
  • Support groups: These are groups that help those who are unable to get therapy.
  • Scholarships: Some treatment institutions offer scholarships directly. Project Heal, for example, is a non-profit organization that offers treatment scholarships to various treatment institutions across the U.S.
  • University Research Programs: You might be able to get low-cost treatment by participating in clinical research at a university.
  • Web-centered: Self-help solutions based on the internet, apps, or workbooks can also be beneficial.


  1. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee. (2018, January 1). Behavioral Health Levels of Care Program Descriptions. BCBST.com. Retrieved June 20, 2022, from https://www.bcbst.com/docs/providers/levels-of-care-program-description.pdf
  2. Petre, Alina M. “6 Common Types of Eating Disorders (and Their Symptoms).” Healthline, Healthline Media, 18 May 2022, www.healthline.com/nutrition/common-eating-disorders#-1.-Anorexia-nervosa.
  3. Muhlheim, Lauren, PsyD, CEDS. “How Much Does Eating Disorder Treatment Cost?” Verywell Mind, Dotdash Media, Inc., 30 Apr. 2022, www.verywellmind.com/how-much-will-treatment-for-my-eating-disorder-cost-4707742.

If you suspect that you or someone you love suffers from mental health disorders, contact Athena Care today.

One of our friendly associates will help you get the help you need. Take this first step to feel better and take control. 

(615) 320-1155