Ninth Circuit Ruling is Monumental for Those Suffering From Eating Disorders

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Guest Post By Ann Marie Hopwood

On July 12, 2012, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals summarily denied Blue Shield of California’s request for rehearing and rehearing en banc for the decision made in Harlick v. Blue Shield of California. In the decision made on June 4, 2012, the Ninth Circuit withdrew its prior opinion of August 26, 2011, and Judge William A. Fletcher issued a majority opinion declaring that health insurance plans are required to provide coverage for “severe mental illnesses” under “the same financial terms as those applied to physical illnesses.” Thus, California health insurance plans are obligated to pay for residential treatment for those suffering from eating disorders even if residential treatment is explicitly excluded from the policy.

You can view the original Harlick v Blue Shield of California decision at:

This is a huge feat for the estimated ten million Americans struggling with eating disorders, most of whom cannot afford to pay for the necessary medical treatment to recover. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and generally require intense and prolonged treatment. This monumental decision, even though currently only affecting those with California health insurance plans, will hopefully spur the other states to follow suit and provide the opportunity for suffering individuals to escape the clutches of an eating disorder.

For more on eating disorders and the law, please visit the Kantor & Kantor Eating Disorder Law Blog at

You can also view the Kantor & Kantor press release from yesterday regarding the Ninth Circuit Ruling in Harlick v Blue Shield of California at

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