Court directs health insurer to cover residential anorexia care

Court directs health insurer to cover residential anorexia care

An appeals court in Los Angeles, California, recently pronounced a ruling that would make health insurers to pay for more residential mental health care.

A three-judge panel at the L. A. appeals court ruled in favor of Marissa Rea and other people who are suffering from anorexia nervosa, agreeing with them that health insurer Blue Shield should pay for residential care.

The plaintiffs said that the California Mental Health Parity Act of 1999 requires health insurers to cover medically necessary treatment for mental issues too. As there is no treatment analog in the area of treatment for anorexia nervosa care in the area of treatments for physical illnesses, the state parity act must be read broadly.

But Blue Shield argued that the state's law requires an insurer to provide only basic health services for physical as well as mental health conditions, and that the law doesn't require an insurer to cover all medically necessary treatments for mental illnesses.

Agreeing with the plaintiffs, Associate Justice Jeffrey Johnson said in the ruling that state constitution meant the parity act to be read broadly and not narrowly.

Pronouncing the ruling, the court said, "Given the principle that treatments for the two types of illnesses are in many cases not comparable, parity instead requires treatment of mental illnesses sufficient to reach the same quality of care afforded physical illnesses."

The court ruling showed that the Golden State's judicial system wants health insurers to provide their customers with insurance coverage for various mental illnesses too.

California's insurance watchdog, Dave Jones, hailed the ruling and said that it was a "sweeping affirmation" of the extensive scope of mental health coverage required by the state's law.

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