Illinois Provides Increased Protection of Consumers for Treatment of Eating Disorders

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Mark DeBofsky

On August 24, 2017, the State of Illinois enacted Public Act 100-0305, which amends the Illinois Insurance Code to afford greater protection to individuals suffering from eating disorders by expanding the mandatory health insurance coverage available to treat such conditions. The law was introduced as HB 1332 by State Representative Laura Fine (Glenview); and after passage in the Illinois House of Representatives, was sponsored in the Illinois Senate by Senator Jule Morrison (Deerfield).  

Public Act 100-0305 mandates that both individual and group insurance policies must cover treatment for “serious mental illness,” the definition of which has been expanded to include:

Eating disorders, including but not limited to, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, pica, rumination disorder, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED), and any other eating disorder contained in the most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association.

215 ILCS 5/370c(b)(2)(K)

Public Act 100-0305 ties in to the Paul Wellstone and Pete Dominici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA), which requires health insurers that provide mental health or substance use coverage from offering less favorable coverage for such conditions than would be offered for medical/surgical benefits. Thus, any health insurance policy that provides for residential treatment of physical impairments must also offer comparable coverage for residential treatment of any serious mental illness, which now explicitly encompasses eating disorders. Obtaining such coverage has been problematic in the past; and while the recently passed law is not a guaranty of coverage, it will make it likelier that those who need such coverage will be able to receive it with less resistance from insurance companies.  

The support of organizations such as the National Eating Disorders Association was critical in securing the speedy passage of HB 1332; and the many calls made to Governor Bruce Rauner’s office in support of the bill were undoubtedly influential in securing the Governor’s signature on the law. The passage of HB 1332 is an example of the effectiveness of grassroots advocacy and will hopefully serve as a template for the passage of similar legislation in all 50 states.