A Fair Haven man whose daughter was denied health insurance coverage for treatment of anorexia was part of a milestone settlement in a federal class-action lawsuit announced yesterday, today’s Star-Ledger reports.
Ronald Drazin was the lead plaintiff in the case, in which the state’s largest health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield, has agreed to pay him and parents of 500 more anorexia patients $1.2 million, the Sledger reports.
Bruce H. Nagel, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said the settlement, if approved by the district court in Newark, also means that eating disorders will now be classified as a biologically based mental illness, just as depression is.
“I am extremely pleased that Horizon has agreed to waive coverage limitations and pay for past denied claims,” Nagel said. “What this means is that all New Jersey residents suffering from eating disorders will finally receive the medical care they so desperately need for these terrifying illnesses.”
Nagel estimated the value of Horizon waiving coverage limitations on disorders such as bulimia and anorexia will amount to more than $20 million over the next 15 years.
Drazin said he hopes to recover $25,000 in out-of-pocket expenses from the suit.
“We fought the battle and won,” said Drazin, a lawyer who lives in Fair Haven. “It was long, but it was worth it.”
Lara Drazin, 18, spent three months at a hospital in Princeton and another three months at a residential treatment facility in Florida after showing signs of anorexia before her first year of high school. She missed a year of school and, at one point, her weight dropped to 88 pounds.
Today, she is a senior at Communications High School in Wall Township, a school for gifted students, where she was elected president of the National Honor Society. She’s also getting ready for college and is an advocate for those with eating disorders.