Equip Health, a leading provider of virtual treatment for eating disorders, announced it has expanded its services to four new states: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, and Illinois. The expansion nearly doubles the company’s reach to include 160 million patients and their families. That means half the country can now access evidence-based eating disorder treatment through Equip’s digital platform.

An estimated 30 million people in the U.S. will develop an eating disorder during their lifetime. But a shortage of qualified providers offering research-based treatment leaves up to 80% of those with eating disorders without access to appropriate care. This gap has a more significant impact on minority communities; white people are twice as likely to receive evidence-based treatment as BIPOC.

Standard treatment options for eating disorders, such as residential programs, come with a high price tag and limited insurance coverage. On the other hand, Equip is an in-network service for a growing number of plans, including Cigna, Horizon, and Optum. The company is also pursuing coverage under Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare. Even the platform’s private pay options are much more affordable than most onsite treatment facilities.

Equip currently serves patients between the ages of 6 and 24. The platform uses family-based treatment (FBA), the only technique that research has validated as effective for adolescents with eating disorders. The service provides digital group, family, and individual therapy sessions, medical and dietician sessions, and group classes that help families develop supportive skills.

It should be noted that clinical validation of the Equip platform itself is still minimal. Results of a 2020 beta trial, while promising, involved only two families over 4-weeks. Nevertheless, significant evidence now supports using evidence-based platforms for other mental health conditions. Given the dearth of available treatment options, Equip stands a solid chance at helping young people recover from eating disorders.