Confused about how to pay for mental healthcare with your insurance? First, learn more about your coverage by following these steps:
Find your insurance card
Call your insurance company. The phone number is likely on the back of your card and may be listed under "behavioral health service" or "customer call". You can also go to our Insurance Company Directory to find your insurance company number. Keep in mind that some insurance companies are open 24/7 and others are only available during workday hours.
Get information about your benefits
After dialing the behavioral health services or customer call phone number, you will be connected to an operator and eventually to a representative from your insurance company. They will ask you to verify some of your information to ensure that you’re covered by the insurance plan. When they ask why you called, you could say, “I want to find out what benefits I have to cover for mental health services."
To learn how much your plan requires you to pay for each time you go to a provider, ask how much you would pay per session. This payment is called a 'copay' or 'coinsurance'. Some insurance plans have an amount that you have to pay out-of-pocket first; this is called a 'deductible'. Once you pay that amount your insurance company will cover part or all of your visit depending on your coverage.
If I have insurance, how much will my appointments cost?
While appointments at your campus counseling center can be covered completely, once they refer you to a provider outside of the campus center, those appointments will be covered by your insurance or you will have to pay out-of-pocket. The cost depends on the type of insurance plan you have and if your doctor is in-network or out-of-network. Usually, all you have to pay when you’re going to a provider covered by your insurance company is a set amount of money called a copay (around $15-35). This amount is usually printed on the back of your insurance card. Typically, you end up paying more when going to doctors that are not covered by your company (out-of-network). For more information, contact your insurance company and ask them about their rates for doctors that are in-network and out-of-network.
What does it mean if a provider offers a sliding scale?
A provider that has a sliding scale offers a flexible fee system that varies with income. This means that the lower your income, the lower the fee you have to pay for your session. The amount you pay should not be reflected on the quality of care you receive and the time you have with the provider. Most times providers don’t even know how much you pay because their office personnel handle it separately.
Who should I go to if I am looking for talk therapy?
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is a collaboration between you and your provider grounded in dialogue. There are many approaches to psychotherapy and many types of providers that will equip you with the right skills to overcome the challenges you are facing. Mental health providers that are trained to provide psychotherapy include therapists, counselors, psychologists, clinical social workers and psychiatrists.
Who can prescribe medications?
Providers that are licensed to prescribe medicine include psychiatrists, advanced practice psychiatric nurses (a specific type of NP), primary care physicians and, depending on the state you live in and their licensing, clinical nurse specialists and physician assistants. These providers may even offer talk therapy if they have received additional training. Talk therapy can help you alongside medicine. However, not every person needs medication.
Will my parents know I'm going to a mental health provider if I am on their insurance plan?
Mental health providers are required, by law, to keep your information confidential. However, if you are on your parents insurance plan or if they receive your medical bills and statements, they might see some information (like the type of service and date) from the bill. Changing the address for the bills and statements or, if on their insurance, paying out-of-pocket for the full cost of the mental health service would ensure this information is kept private from your parents.
Is online therapy the right match for me?
Access: In addition to the more traditional, regularly scheduled appointments, messaging allows you more frequent contact with your therapist. An online service also gives you access to a wider range of therapists within your state; you are no longer limited to those practicing within a 20 mile radius of where you live, and you can continue your sessions when you travel.
Affordability: Online therapy may be more affordable, although it will vary between online therapy companies and specific providers. Instead of charging a fee per session, some companies/providers will charge a weekly or monthly fee instead. The medium of communication may also matter, as video sessions can sometimes be more expensive.
Availability: The variety of communication mediums means that you can talk or send a message to your therapist in real time. If you prefer to think about your therapist's response, you also do not have the pressure to write back immediately.
Comfort: Online therapy could be the right match for you if you are nervous about meeting with someone in person, It also allows you to communicate in a setting of your choosing.
Convenience: You can save transportation time and it gives you more flexibility in scheduling sessions.
Privacy: Online therapy can save you the fear of running into someone you know in the waiting rooms of an office. Also, it can be anonymous, as some networks or online therapists just require a method of payment and email.