Therapy and counseling can be extremely beneficial. Trying to find a counselor that you are comfortable with and can afford? Not really fun. When it comes to the question of “How to find a therapist that takes my insurance?”, finding the answer leaves many people discouraged or overwhelmed. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems.
The mental strain of finding a therapist that takes your insurance can feel overwhelming, especially if you are trying to manage a condition like BPD, or are going through a divorce. Despite this challenge, therapy is often more accessible and affordable than it seems. This is especially true today thanks to the surge in online therapy and counseling.
In this article I’ll share my insights from helping dozens of people find therapists that take their insurance, and provide the steps that you can take today.
Steps For How To Find A Therapist That Takes Your Insurance
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Affordable Care Act insurance plans that are found on the marketplace and in the individual and small group categories are required to cover mental health services. Additionally, all Medicaid plans along with a large majority of major employers do cover mental health care at least partly. Even if you don’t have access to insurance, there are still options out there for you.As a BetterHelp afﬁliate, we may receive compensation from BetterHelp if you purchase products or services through the links provided.
1. Contact Your Insurance Provider
Step #1 may seem obvious, but the first thing you should do is to contact your insurance provider and inquire about mental health coverage. You may have luck looking on their online portal, but you may be better off giving them a call and speaking to a live rep.
You should also be able to find full coverage details in the plan information documents that you received when you were enrolled, however, those documents are almost always impossible to fully understand. To simplify things, we recommend calling your insurance provider’s member services number and asking the following questions:
- Is there a copay for therapy visits in my plan?
- If I want to seek therapy, am I required to get a referral from my primary doctor or preapproval from you, the insurer?
- Are out-of-network counselors or therapists covered?
- Are all mental health professionals covered, or only particular specialties?
Asking these questions is the first step to finding out which coverage you have, so you can then begin looking for a therapist that accepts your insurance.
2. Find An In-Network Therapist
Once you know what type of mental health coverage you have, you can now find a counselor that takes your insurance. Step #2 is that staying in-network is just about always the more affordable route to go.
To start, try looking through your provider’s online directory. However, if you find that the website is difficult to navigate, don’t hesitate to once again call your insurance company. Tell them that you would like a list of in-network therapists in your area. Be sure to tell them the exact type of therapy you are looking for, whether it’s for crippling anxiety and depression, if you have signs of anger issues, or even if you need black marriage counseling.
Unfortunately, it can sometimes be really difficult to find a therapist in-network who is accepting new patients.
You will have more options if you are fortunate enough to have some out-of-network coverage. Be aware that this may cost you. There may be a deductible before coverage begins, and some policies will only provide minimal help. Not to mention there may be additional forms and paperwork to fill out.
3. Speak With Your Company’s HR Department
Your employment benefits package can include an employment Assistance Program (EAP), which can lower the cost of getting mental health care. EAPs often give employees a set number of complimentary sessions before requiring them to use their insurance coverage or pay out-of-pocket. This is in contrast to health insurance policies.
The number of sessions provided by your employer’s EAP may not be enough for you. If this is the situation, you might be referred to a different mental health specialist to go on with your sessions. To find out if and how those sessions are covered as well as to find out more about the specific services your EAP offers, speak with your HR representative.
4. Talk With Your Preferred Therapist About Your Insurance
It doesn’t hurt to ask a potential therapist if they accept your insurance if you’ve already made up your mind about working with them. Reaching out directly can provide clarity and ensure that there are no financial surprises down the line. Moreover, some therapists might offer alternative payment options or sliding scale fees if they don’t accept your specific insurance.
For example, my friend Sarah had her heart set on a specific therapist she’d heard great reviews about. She reached out directly to inquire about insurance compatibility. To her relief, not only did the therapist accept her insurance, but they also discussed flexible payment plans for potential future sessions without coverage.
What If I Can’t Find A Therapist That Takes My Insurance?
If you don’t have health insurance or feel like you have exhausted all of your insurance options, then you may still have some of the following options.
Therapists Who Use Sliding Scales
A typical out-of-pocket counseling session will cost between $100-$250 depending on where you live and the provider. Luckily, some mental health providers operate on what is called a “sliding scale”. This means that the fees that they charge will vary based on several key factors including a client’s income. The discount that they give is completely up to them, though.
Most therapists will state on their website or online profile if they accept patients on a sliding scale. It is perfectly fine to ask a therapist what their rate is and whether or not they operate on a sliding scale. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to try to negotiate a lower rate. Just be prepared to justify your reasoning for asking for a larger discount.
If you live near a college or university, you might consider seeing someone who is currently working on becoming a mental health practitioner. While they are technically still students, they do work under the close supervision of a licensed professional, and they always charge lower rates.
A clinician-in-training may also be willing to spend more time with you and have more eagerness to help you. They are benefiting from learning from you, so they may put forth a little extra energy into your case. It’s a win-win.
Call around to see if a college or university near you has a training clinic open to the general public.
Community Or Government Funded Health Centers
Some areas have health care facilities that sliding scale, low-fee, and sometimes even completely free health care to folks with lower income. While most provide only physical health services, some do offer mental health services, as well.
In order to find these types of facilities, you will need to google the department of behavioral health or mental health authority in your area. They should be able to provide you with information about these kinds of facilities, including their contact information. Alternatively, you could check the website of the Health Resources & Services Administration.
Last, but certainly not least, you could give online therapy a try. Online counseling options such as BetterHelp are typically less expensive than traditional in-person counseling, and many online therapy sites take insurance.
You may be questioning if online therapy is as effective as classic therapy. The quick answer is yes, so long as you are paired with a licensed professional. There have been numerous studies conducted that ultimately concluded that Internet-based CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) was seemingly as effective as in-person CBT for treating many mental health issues.
Virtual therapy is still relatively new, but it is rapidly growing. The main is key to ensure that you are receiving quality care, and if possible, work with an online therapy service that takes your insurance. The same advice is given above about contacting your insurance company and the online therapy provider to ensure that your treatment is covered.
Benefits of Online Therapy
Embracing the digital age, online therapy offers a myriad of benefits, revolutionizing the way individuals access and experience mental health support.
- Accessibility: Online therapy provides access to mental health services for those in remote areas or with limited mobility, ensuring everyone has the chance to receive help.
- Flexibility: Virtual sessions can be scheduled at convenient times, accommodating busy lifestyles and eliminating commute times.
- Privacy: Online therapy offers a high level of discretion, allowing individuals to seek help without the potential stigma of visiting a therapist’s office.
- Diverse Therapist Options: Online platforms provide a wider range of therapists with varied expertise, ensuring a better match for individual needs.
- Cost-Effective: Often, online therapy is more affordable than traditional face-to-face sessions, especially when considering travel and time costs.
- Comfort: Engaging in therapy from the comfort of one’s home can make individuals feel more at ease, potentially leading to more open and effective sessions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it possible to consult with a therapist online for free?
Yes, some platforms offer initial consultations or trial sessions for free. However, this is rare.
Also, it’s essential to verify the therapist’s credentials and ensure the platform’s security before sharing personal information.
What’s the typical cost range for a therapy session?
The cost of therapy can vary based on location, therapist’s expertise, and session duration. On average, prices range from $60 to $250 per session.
How can I determine if a therapist is in-network with my insurance?
You can contact your insurance provider for a list of in-network therapists. Alternatively, when reaching out to a therapist or their clinic, ask them directly if they’re affiliated with your insurance plan.
Are there any alternatives if my insurance doesn’t cover therapy?
Absolutely! Many therapists offer sliding scale fees based on income. Additionally, community health centers and online platforms might provide affordable therapy options or payment plans.
Finding a therapist that takes your insurance or who offers a good price is just the initial step. It’s crucial that you have trust in the counselor enough that you are willing to be honest and open so that you can work together on your treatment plan.
Don’t be afraid to discuss with your new therapist your insurance situation or the possibility of working on a sliding scale if you don’t have insurance. You will find that most are sensitive to personal financial situations and are willing to be flexible with clients.
By following the steps above, I have helped many people who contacted TheMentalDesk to work through their insurance troubles and get the mental health help that they needed.
Check out this article if you’re wondering how to talk to a therapist for the first time.As a BetterHelp afﬁliate, we may receive compensation from BetterHelp if you purchase products or services through the links provided.