Over the past few years, insurance has saved my life in multiple ways. Insurance helps people protect their houses, provides money for spouses and children of those who have passed away, and has helped ensure that people’s cars are protected in case of an accident. Insurance has helped my friends and family in these ways. However, insurance has done so much more for me. It has helped me to recover from an eating disorder that almost took my life.
Two years ago, I sat in a hospital, severely malnourished and underweight, with several nurses surrounding me ordering me to eat dessert. I stared in fear at the bowl set in front of me. Staring back at me was three scoops of vanilla ice cream. My hand shook as I slowly picked up my spoon and scooped up a tiny portion of the mound of ice cream sitting before me. At this point, I could not overcome my fear of food and what it would do to my body. As much as I wanted to, I could not mentally rise above that fear. I knew then that it would take hard work to commit to my recovery. I would recover from anorexia. I knew that I needed intense treatment in order to get out of the grips of anorexia, so my family made sure I was sent to a certified residential treatment center. While they gave me tremendous support and ultimately saved my life, it came at an extremely high price tag. Every day of residential treatment was over one thousand dollars, and I was told I would spend at least four months in treatment. The money wasn’t adding up, and my family was not sure how to come up with the funds. The only thing my family knew was that I desperately needed help.
My eating disorder took total control of my life during my sophomore year. I had always excelled in school and wanted to pursue a career in healthcare, yet anorexia took away my sense of rationality and convinced me that I should not properly nourish myself. Because of this, my parents eventually did make the decision to send me to a residential treatment center, despite the cost. It was here that I saw that this disease does not discriminate. People of all ages from different races, cultures and backgrounds were fighting for their life. Everybody in the program had talent and promise, yet their eating disorder was taking that away from them, just as it was stealing it from me. Following my four months of treatment, I reached a healthy weight and was discharged. On that day, I was overjoyed that I finally had the tools and support to overcome this horrible eating disorder. However, I still felt the burden I had placed on my family, as we now owed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the treatment center.
After treatment, my parents filed a claim to my insurance. We had heard that few people got any form of support, but we needed help in paying for the very treatment that had prevented my untimely death at the age of fifteen. We waited quite awhile to hear back, but when my insurance answered, we were thrilled. While they did not agree to completely pay for my treatment, they did pay the majority of the cost. They brought the price down to a reasonable number, something that my family could afford. I am incredibly lucky that my insurance was understanding of mental illnesses, especially eating disorders. Most insurances refuse to cover treatment for mental illness, or they give a very small percentage of the cost.
Two years ago, if you would have told fifteen year old Kennedy that I would be completely recovered from an eating disorder in a couple short years, I would never have believed it. I was so entrenched in my eating disorder that I thought I would never recover. Yet, here I am. I still fight everyday against this illness for my friends who lost the fight to their eating disorder, for those who are recovering, but most importantly, I fight for myself. The only reason I had this opportunity to freely begin recovery without financially burdening my family was because my insurance took a stand and paid for my treatment. Insurance is so important and beneficial because it has the power to save lives. I know that I would not be alive without my treatment, and my insurance is one of the big reasons why I am still here today.
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