09 October 2010

Treatment denied (Blogging for Sofia)

Sofia Benbahmed as a toddler.

The joy and wonder of life shine in the face of this little girl; dark, tousled curls framing her face, eyes closed and the warmth of a summer day embracing her as she clutches a daisy in each hand. There was a time when this little girl felt comfortable in her body. She didn't worry about weight and calories and body image. She was free like all little girls; running, playing and secure within herself and her world.

But at some point, something shifted within Sofia Benbahmed and she developed an eating disorder about twelve years ago. Now a young lady, she is struggling to overcome her illness and create a normal life free of fear and anxiety. She began residential treatment at Monte Nido in California in November. She spent three weeks there, healing and beginning her journey of recovery.

Sofia wrote, "During my time there I began to feel myself changing and rising to the occasion in a way I never had before. It was as though all of these years I have been  in a room with no doors or windows, and suddenly doors began to appear — and not only did they become visible, but I began to walk through them."

Then her insurance company denied further treatment.

Many of us know how it feels to be trapped by an eating disorder, looking for a way out and praying for recovery. I have struggled with anorexia nervosa for four years, and residential treatment was recommended for me about two years ago.

My insurance does not pay for this type of treatment. Furthermore, when my treatment team recommended partial hospitalization (the highest level besides hospitalization that my insurance will cover) this past spring, I was denied treatment three times even though I was at my lowest weight and was quickly becoming medically compromised while the various powers-to-be at the insurance company debated with my doctor about the necessity for this level of care.

I was finally admitted to a PHP after my doctor told the insurance company I would soon end up in the hospital. I remember my own fight with the insurance company; how it wore me down and made it harder to focus on recovery.

It is because of my own experience that I am taking the time to write about Sofia, someone I've never met. Sofia's treatment team has recommended that she return to Monte Nido and receive the full treatment necessary to recover, but her insurance continues to deny her.

Sofia Benbahmed continues to fight for recovery in spite of the fact that she is becoming sicker every day. To contribute toward the costs of her treatment, go to GiveForward.org. You can read Sofia's complete story there, and see what a brave and determined young lady she is and how she takes full responsibility for her recovery; it is not easy for her to ask for financial help to pay for the treatment she so desperately needs. You also can find more information through Miss Mary Max's blog; she is the one who spearheaded the "Blogging for  Sofia" campaign.

Everyone deserves the treatment their doctors and health professionals recommend. Insurance companies have no right to play God, deciding if this person is worthy of treatment while that person is not.

I am honored to have a small part in this effort to gain treatment for one person with an eating disorder. I just wish that appropriate treatment would be readily available for everyone who needs it.
Sofia Benbahmed today.


EmilyH said...

My heart goes out to Sofia as I relate so much to her story...

This past May, my doctor recommended that I begin their partial inpatient treatment program full-time. I was terrified, but my husband helped me work up the courage to do it. On the first day of treatment, the doctor had to pull me out of therapy group to let me know that my insurance has refused to cover my treatment. I was so upset because it had taken so much to just get me there to begin with, and now my insurance wanted to take me away.

The doctor suggested that I try outpatient therapy supplemented with Prozac. It was like a slap across the face. It felt like the best treatment is reserved for the rich.

There has to be a better way for ED sufferers to get treatment. Being willing to get treatment is the first HUGE step, and it's horrible that insurance is the obstacle preventing great treatment. I just don't understand why my doctor's suggestion was not what the insurance was listening to.

Thank you for posting this issue. It's an important one.


Anonymous said...

she is absolutely gorgeous. so beautiful on the outside and you can tell by her smile she is on the inside as well. <3

Anonymous said...

Thanks for good stuff

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