Heim advocate for those who suffer from eating disorders

rpulley@lsjournal.comMarch 28, 2014 

Suzi Heim, of Lee’s Summit, spent Wednesday in Jefferson City talking to legislators about the need for improving insurance coverage for eating disorders.

She’s also organizing a walk to raise awareness and money to combat the problem.

Heim, a middle school teacher for the Blue Springs School District, became involved in the issue following the death of her daughter Emily Heim, who had a long struggle with bulimia and anorexia.

“It’s a daily battle to strive for recovery,” Heim said. “It’s important to not be afraid to talk about it. Everybody knows someone with an eating disorder.”

She said her family did the best they could helping her daughter and now she’s working to help stop the growing problem.

“I don’t want other families or individuals to go through what Emily and my family went through,” she said.

She’s the organizer for the second annual NEDA Walk, to be held June 14 at Berkley Riverfront Park in Kansas City. NEDA is the National Eating Disorders Association.

Heim planned the first walk, which had 450 participants. She originally had wanted to hold it in Lee’s Summit, but a more central location was chosen to encourage participation from across the metropolitan area.

While medical insurance covers hospitalizations during a crisis, the interventions paid for by many insurance companies aren’t sufficient to get at underlying causes, she said.

“The coverage isn’t comparable to someone with a medical condition,” Heim said. It is a problem for many people dealing with mental health issues.

She said issues with negative body image affect people of all ages, female and male, and numbers are growing.

On Eating Disorder Advocacy Day, March 26, Heim and several friends went to the Capitol to ask lawmakers to support SB 769 and HB 1493.

The bills that are sponsored by Sen. David Pearce and Rep. Rick Stream, she said, would ensure that Missouri health insurance plans adequately cover the treatment of eating disorders.

Heim said if these bills passed, it would improve access to treatment for 500,000 Missourians who will suffer from an eating disorder.

A Senate Committee has already voted to send the bill to the floor for a vote. She’s asking Missourians to write their state senator and representatives to encourage them to support SB 769 and HB 1493. (Eating Disorder Insurance Reform)

Heim said complete treatment is very cost effective.

An Actuarial Study was conducted by the state in 2013 which showed that the cost to provide complete, specialized treatment that is in compliance with the American Psychiatric Association Guidelines will cost only two-tenths of one percent.

“This means if someone had a policy that costs $100 a month, the cost to cover eating disorders treatment is 22 cents,” Heim said.


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