Nov 8, 2023 • 9 min read

How Much Does Eating Disorder Treatment Cost? (With & Without Insurance)

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Eating disorders are complex mental health conditions associated with disturbances in eating behaviors and a preoccupation with food and body image. They are serious, sometimes fatal, illnesses that negatively affect a person’s physical and mental health in a variety of ways. 

Over 28 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder throughout their lives, resulting in approximately 10,200 deaths per year.

The good news is that there are a variety of treatments that work, and complete recovery is possible. Treatment options include outpatient visits to a therapist or dietitian, residential care facilities, and inpatient hospitalization. Treatment can be expensive, and the range of costs is broad depending on the diagnosis and treatment plan. 

So how much does eating disorder treatment cost?

The cost of eating disorder treatment varies widely—from inpatient hospitalization that can cost up to $19,000 to month-long residential programs that can average $1,200 a day to outpatient therapy hourly charges of $100 to $200 per session. Many insurance providers cover eating disorder treatment so individual costs can range from $0 to whatever coinsurance or copay amounts your plan requires. 

This guide goes over the costs of different eating disorder treatments, options for when treatment is not covered by insurance, and the types of eating disorders that treatment can help.

Costs of different eating disorder treatment options

Treatment options for eating disorders range from weekly outpatient office visits to inpatient hospitalization. 

Outpatient services are less expensive than inpatient hospital stays, which can cost over $19,000 for 2 weeks. On the other hand, outpatient nutrition counseling sessions that are covered by insurance may cost as little as $0.

The cost to treat your eating disorder will vary based on several factors. Some of these factors include your specific insurance plan, the level of care you need, the provider you’re seeing, and the state you live in.

Cost of therapy for eating disorders

How much does eating disorder therapy cost with insurance?

Under the mental health parity law, insurance companies are required to provide mental health benefits comparable to the benefits they offer for physical health. This means that outpatient therapy for eating disorders is typically covered by health insurance.

Copayments for therapy visits can vary from $0 to $50. If your therapist is out-of-network with your insurance provider, you may still be able to get reimbursed for the cost of your visit.

How much does eating disorder therapy cost without insurance?

Some therapists do not take insurance or may not be in-network with your insurance provider. In this case, you can choose to pay out-of-pocket for your visits. 

On average, a one-hour individual psychotherapy session costs between $100 to $200 without insurance. The type of therapy, duration of the visit, and the therapist’s experience and credentials all play a role in the final cost.

Cost of medical nutrition therapy for eating disorders

How much does seeing a dietitian cost with insurance?

The cost of seeing a nutritionist or dietitian varies depending on their credentials, experience, and location. Most insurance companies cover nutrition counseling if it’s provided by a registered dietitian. Of course, it’s important to confirm the nutrition benefits available to you with your insurance provider before your appointment.

Depending on your plan, you could pay as little as $0 per visit with a disordered eating dietitian. Even if your visit isn’t completely covered, you’ll still save money by using your health insurance. 

Like therapy visits, some insurance companies will reimburse your visit to an out-of-network dietitian.

When you request an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians here at Zaya Care, we’ll check your insurance so you know exactly how much you’ll have to pay, if anything at all.

dietitian working on the computer

Book a virtual dietitian appointment

Covered by your insurance

How much does seeing a dietitian cost without insurance?

If you do not have health insurance or you must pay out-of-pocket for another reason, you can anticipate paying about $100 to $200 per visit with a dietitian. Generally, an initial visit will cost more than a follow-up visit.

Factors that affect the out-of-pocket cost include the dietitian’s experience level, credentials and/or certificates held, and location.

Cost of an intensive outpatient program for eating disorders

How much does an intensive outpatient program cost with insurance?

Intensive outpatient programs provide structured, intensive treatment for patients who do not require round-the-clock supervision. These programs are often attended a few hours per day several days a week.

Many insurance companies and Medicare will cover all or part of the costs of an intensive outpatient treatment program. However, most insurance providers require proof of medical necessity and may have other criteria you need to meet to be approved.

How much does an intensive outpatient program cost without insurance?

The cost of an intensive outpatient program without insurance will vary depending on the facility. On average, it’s estimated that these programs cost about $250 to $350 per day.

The types of services offered, the duration and intensity of the program, and the location of the facility all play a role in the final cost.

Cost of a partial hospitalization program for eating disorders

How much does a partial hospitalization program cost with insurance?

Partial hospitalization programs provide structured care for patients who need daily medical and psychological assessment but are stable enough to sleep at home. Most health insurance companies have specific criteria that need to be met before a partial hospitalization program will be covered. 

For example, Medicare only covers care received through the outpatient department of a hospital or a community mental health center. You’ll also likely need to obtain prior authorization before your insurance company will cover a partial hospitalization program.

Under Medicare, once you meet your deductible, you’ll start paying coinsurance for each day thereafter.

How much does a partial hospitalization program cost without insurance?

Like intensive outpatient programs, the cost of a partial hospitalization program without insurance varies based on the types of services, the duration of the program, and the location of the facility.

On average, a partial hospitalization program can cost upwards of $350 to $450 per day without insurance.

Cost of a residential program for eating disorders

How much does a residential program cost with insurance?

Residential programs provide 24-hour care for patients who are medically stable but need more support than outpatient treatment can provide.

If you have insurance, it may cover some or all of your residential care costs. However, you’ll likely need your physician to submit a prior authorization. You’ll also need to meet certain criteria for admission to a residential program before your insurance company agrees to pay.

How much does a residential program cost without insurance?

Residential programs are one of the most expensive out-of-pocket treatment options. 

Without insurance coverage, these programs can cost upwards of $1,237 daily or over $37,000 monthly. The total cost will depend on many factors including the facility and the services it offers.

Cost of inpatient hospitalization for eating disorders

How much does inpatient hospitalization cost with insurance?

For patients who are medically unstable, inpatient hospitalization may be necessary.

Whether you’re admitted to a general hospital or a psychiatric hospital, most health insurance companies will pay for a percentage of the total cost of your stay.

Medicare requires you to reach your deductible before they begin paying for your hospital stay. Once your deductible is reached, you’ll pay $0 for days 1-60. After that, you’ll pay a $400 copayment per day for days 61-90.

How much does inpatient hospitalization cost without insurance?

An inpatient hospitalization stay is one of the most expensive eating disorder treatments to pay for out-of-pocket. 

The overall cost depends on several factors including the location of the hospital, your length of stay, and any treatments you received. The average length of stay for inpatients with eating disorders was found to be 14 days with a total cost of $19,400 per admission.

Cost of medication for eating disorders

How much does medication cost with insurance?

Medications are not often used to treat eating disorders. However, evidence shows that certain classes of medications, like SSRIs, may help treat bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.

Fortunately, most medications used to treat eating disorders have a less expensive generic version available. Generic medications are more likely to be covered by insurance. Copayments for generic medications can cost as little as $0.

How much does medication cost without insurance?

The cost of medication without insurance varies depending on the type of medication, drug manufacturer, and pharmacy.

For example, fluoxetine is an SSRI sometimes used to treat bulimia nervosa. A 30-day supply of fluoxetine costs around $26.59. Another medication called topiramate can be used to treat binge eating disorder and costs about $49 for a 30-day supply.

dietitian working on the computer

Book a virtual dietitian appointment

Covered by your insurance

How you can save on eating disorder treatment if you don’t have insurance or if your insurance doesn’t cover treatment

Insurance providers may not cover eating disorder treatment if the requirements for medical necessity are not met. If your insurance company does not cover eating disorder treatment or you are uninsured, you may still have options.

  • Scholarship funds. Non-profit organizations like Project HEAL provide scholarships and grants to individuals who apply and meet their criteria for financial need. These scholarships help pay for everything from meals to residential treatment programs.
  • Sliding scale fees. Some outpatient health centers offer the option to pay for therapy services based on a sliding scale. Sliding scale fees are based on an individual’s income. This helps provide lower-income patients access to the healthcare they need.
  • Medical schools and research centers. Medical universities and research centers are often looking for volunteers to participate in clinical research trials. This can be a great way to receive low-cost or free treatment.
  • Student health centers. For university students, school health centers play a critical role in treating students with eating disorders. Staff are often trained to screen for disordered eating, evaluate eating concerns, and provide support and resources to those who need it. 
  • Support groups. Support groups are not a replacement for eating disorder treatment. However, they can be a great way to connect with others and learn about additional resources that may help you navigate treatment and recovery.
  • Coupons. If you need help paying for prescription medications, drug manufacturers and other companies like GoodRx may have coupon codes available to help cut costs.

Types of eating disorders that treatment can help

Now that we’ve discussed the cost of eating disorder treatment, let’s look at the types of eating disorders and how treatment can help.

  • Anorexia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder marked by abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of becoming overweight, and a distorted body image. Treatment for anorexia nervosa focuses on refeeding and psychotherapy.
  • Bulimia nervosa. Bulimia nervosa is characterized by cycles of binging and compensatory behaviors, such as purging, with the intent to control weight. Antidepressant medications and cognitive behavioral therapy have been shown to help reduce symptoms of bulimia nervosa. 
  • Binge eating disorder. Binge eating disorder is a condition where a person regularly eats a large amount of food in a short period of time. They often feel little control over how much or what they’re eating. Common treatment options include psychotherapy, seeing a dietitian, and medications.
  • Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder. Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) sufferers have intense restrictions surrounding the types and amount of food they eat. However, unlike anorexia nervosa, ARFID does not involve body image distortions. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the main treatment for ARFID.
  • Rumination disorder. Rumination disorder is a condition in which a person automatically regurgitates recently eaten food. The regurgitated food is usually re-chewed then swallowed or spit out. The gold standard for the treatment of rumination disorder is diaphragmatic breathing.
  • Pica. Pica is classified by the reoccurring consumption of non-food substances such as dirt, raw starches, paper, and baby powder. Treatment focuses on reducing access to the craved substance or substituting it with something more appropriate. Supplementation is used when nutrient deficiencies are present.
  • Other specified feeding and eating disorders. Those diagnosed with other specified feeding and eating disorders (OSFED) do not meet the full criteria to be diagnosed with another type of eating disorder. Treatment for OSFED depends on the patient’s specific symptoms.
  • Orthorexia. Although not recognized as an eating disorder by the DSM-5, orthorexia is defined as an unhealthy fixation with healthy eating. No specific treatments for orthorexia exist. However, psychotherapy is often used to work through anxiety around feared foods.

How Zaya Care helps you book registered dietitians specializing in disordered eating covered by your insurance

Here at Zaya Care, we’re dedicated to helping people find dietitians based on their preferences, needs, and insurance.

When you request an appointment with one of our disordered eating dietitians, we’ll check your insurance so you know exactly how much you’ll have to pay, if anything at all.

It’s worth noting that 90% of Zaya Care patients pay $0 for nutrition care with a registered dietitian as we are in-network with many major carriers.

dietitian working on the computer

Book a virtual dietitian appointment

Covered by your insurance

Ashley Petrie is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in culinary nutrition, recipe development, and meal planning. She has experience in a variety of settings as a dietitian, including clinical, community, private practice, and entrepreneurship. She currently teaches others how to cook easy, scratch-made recipes through her food blog. Ashley is passionate about using her knowledge of cooking and nutrition to inspire others to cook healthy, delicious meals at home so they can enjoy better-tasting, more nutritious food.