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This fundraiser ended on 12/31/10

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My name is Sofia Benbahmed and I am trying to do everything in my power to get the help I need - if you read the description on my page, all of the details are there in an email that I am sending out to friends and family. I am currently trying to raise money to get the treatment recommended for me for a disease I have had for 12 years - an eating disorder. I have had issues with my insurance company and am trying to get the help I need and finally get better! I hope you will read my story and help me so that I can go on to help others.

Dear friends, family, and concerned organizations,

This is a difficult thing to ask - in general, it is difficult to ask for help, let alone financial help when times are so rough. But I have been fighting a
losing battle against a deadly disease -an eating disorder - for far too long now and it is time for me to get the help I need. For this I ask that you
read on and see if you are able to help me in any way. As many of you know, I have struggled with disordered eating in its various forms from a very young age. Four years or so ago it took a turn for the severe, and I have been fighting, literally, to stay alive. I have been in and out
of hospitals and treatment centers for the last four and a half years. This is where the difficulty comes in: I am in a place where I am willing and
wanting to get well, but due to the long term nature and severety of my illness I need a lot of help to do so. Eating disorder treatment, especially
in the form recommended for someone with a disorder as severe as my own, is incredibly expensive. What is being professionally recommended (and
has been for some time now) for me is help in the form of residential treatment: a live in center where I can be monitored at meal times and afterward,
receive therapy in group and individual form, see a dietician and a doctor and be medically monitored with a nursing staff. Last year in November I was admitted to such a facility: it is called Monte Nido and is located in Southern California. 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. It is the only way that I
have been able to describe it. Unfortunately, due to the cost of treatment, most insurance companies are unwilling to cover the recommended length of time. Generally they will cover a few weeks, some of the better companies will cover a few months - but in January of 2008 my insurance policy changed from a less problematic carrier to United Behavioral Health. UBH has been atrociously inappropriate in providing me the coverage that I need to get well. After 3 weeks at Monte Nido, UBH stopped paying for my treatment and I had to leave. Since then I have tried, genuinely tried, to
get well - and I have been unable to. My treatment team (therapist, medical doctor, and other professionals) believes I need long term residential
care followed by a "step down" - which means I would follow that with continuing to live in a supportive but less monitored environment while attending a day program, which is the same as residential treatment except during the day and at night I'd be on my own, and following that
with a program that I'd attend a few days a week, and so on.
Monte Nido's program director and all of my treating professionals were shocked at how thoroughly United Behavioral Health failed
to dispense my insurance benefits to me, and Monte Nido's founder and clinical director, Carolyn Costin, graciously became personally involved.
She referred me to an attorney named Lisa Kantor who has worked exclusively with clients with eating disorders, helping them to get their insurance companies to authorize appropriate levels and lengths of care. Lisa has agreed to work with me on a contingency basis, which means that unless we win in court, she doesn't get paid anything - which in itself is a testament to her belief that I have a very good chance at winning. The issue that has come up is that she believes in order to have the best chance of winning, I need to go to treatment and remain there for the duration
of an appeal following UBH pulling out - my family's financial situation has been ravaged by the state of the economy, and we were never wealthy to begin with. My father has been unemployed for almost two years now, my mother retired before all of this happened, and the house they are paying off in North Carolina is worth nothing, as the company that owned and built it has gone bankrupt - so selling their house is not an option
at all, even if it were not such an enormous and frightening sacrifice. Because my medical state has declined significantly recently and it is clear that without appropriate treatment for my illness I will die, my father has graciously offered to take from his retirement. The hope (and belief of Lisa Kantor) is that if I am able to remain in treatment for the duration of the appeal process, UBH will be ordered to reimburse us - and not only that, but ordered to cover the length of time in treatment that is being recommended for me. Lisa estimates that an appeal should take about a month
at minimum, and most likely no more than 6 weeks to two months. There is no guarantee that we will win, but she has never lost a case, and she does not believe that we would lose. What my father is able to take out of his retirement will cover 28 days in treatment. It would be disastrous if I were to go into treatment, have my father pay that money out of pocket, and then not be able to stay for the entire appeal - we have a much better chance of winning if I can stay for the entire thing. Eating disorder treatment is very expensive because of the aggressive and thorough approach that treatment
requires - nursing, nutritional counseling, psychiatric/medication administration and monitoring, 24 hour a day counseling and monitoring, multiple group therapy sessions daily and several individual therapy sessions weekly. Carolyn, Monte Nido's director, has graciously offered a reduced rate for me - dropping the daily rate from $1325 a day to $1050 a day, a savings of about $9000/month. I do not feel comfortable going into treatment without a better chance of being able to remain there for the duration of the appeal/a better chance of reimbursement -the scenario could then be that not only my family would not be reimbursed and we would be even further financially troubled, but I may not get the treatment I need on top of it. This is why I am asking for your help. Again, the hope would be that UBH would be ordered in court to reimburse us everything, and if this were the case I would be able to reimburse anyone who was able to help out in a timely fashion. It is not a guarantee.
If this did not happen I would hopefully be able to make do with the treatment I did receieve and recover - not only saving my life, but going on to do the things I want to do with my life and being present in the world. I would then be in a place where I could work, and if necessary, eventually take out loans. I would do my absolute best to pay anyone who was able to help out back in as timely and efficient a fashion as possible, but I do have to acknowledge that this would probably take many years. So I am asking for your help. I'd like to be able to give you a more concrete idea of just how much money I am trying to raise, but the best I can do is say that I believe at most the appeal would take about 2 months, and as my father is able to cover about a month of that, it would be ideal if I could come up with about 30,000 dollars. Of course that is an extraordinary amount
of money and probably impossible to come up with - an additional two weeks of treatment, which would most likely be enough to cover the length of the appeal, would be 15,000 dollars - a rate of $7500/week. If you are in a position to help it would be most greatly appreciated, and I so appreciate you taking the time to read this. I will be setting up a paypal account online so that you can donate there directly - any bit helps - and if you would like to speak with me further about this, or have any questions, I can be reached on my cell phone at (925) 212 1705 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (925) 212 1705      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
If you'd like to donate the funds directly to Monte Nido, please contact me and let me know the amount you'd like to donate and I'll put you in touch with their administrative office/financial department. Also helpful would be if you could forward this email to any friends or family you think might be able or willing to help out, and spread the word. Help me recover to go on and help others do the same!
My hope is to go on to become a therapist and help others recover from these deadly diseases and do advocacy work to raise awareness and help end eating disorders. I love you all and again appreciate you taking the time to read this. Thank you,
Sofia Benbahmed
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