Deciding to start therapy is a huge milestone in life. What could be more important than committing to work on yourself and become the best version of you? Who you are and who you become influences every part of your life. This is why choosing the right therapist is so important. It’s essential you and your therapist are a good fit and that the person you choose has the experience and expertise to get you to the next level in life, whether you’re working on career goals, relationships, self-exploration or all of the above.
One of the considerations you might take into account when looking for a therapist is whether that therapist accepts your insurance. For many people, this is a deciding factor when choosing someone.
After all, you’re paying a premium every month for your insurance so why wouldn’t you want to use it? It can save you money on your session costs and it can help you narrow down your search by ruling out therapists who don’t accept your plan. You use your insurance for all other doctors so why not do the same for therapy, right?
New therapy seekers with this belief are often confused and frustrated by the number of therapists they find that do not accept insurance. It can be really difficult to find someone that specializes in your area of need, is close to home, fits your personality, and accepts your insurance.
Why are there so many therapists out there that don’t accept insurance?
Many consumers don’t realize that there are several downsides for both therapists and clients when using insurance to pay for therapy. Here are a few of the downsides of using insurance to pay for therapy.
1. Less Confidentiality
Everyone knows that what happens in therapy stays in therapy. Your therapist is required to keep everything you say confidential no matter what, right? When you use insurance to pay for therapy, your therapist is required to provide your diagnosis and treatment notes to your insurance company in order to get paid. This undermines the basic premise of therapy and also gives a lot more people access to private health information about you. (Out of network benefits require a diagnosis, but notes are not shared) If this is news to you, you’re not alone. It’s all written into the HIPAA document you get when you start therapy or any Dr's office but most people don’t read all the fine print.
2. Insurance-Driven Treatment Plan
When therapists take insurance, they are required to use treatment methods that are covered by your plan. This means they have less say in how to treat you based on your specific and individual needs. The people who work for your insurance company and decide which methods of therapy can be used, are usually not therapists, they have not met you and do not know what you need.
3. Quality and Quantity
Most insurance companies pay therapists a fraction of the session fee which must include time spent writing notes, treatment plans and billing.
Submitting insurance claims is time-consuming and confusing, it requires a lot of paperwork and usually takes months to get paid by insurance companies. Many therapists have to hire a billing professional to help them manage insurance claims to make sure they actually get paid. Sometimes, insurance companies decide they will not reimburse for sessions and the provider is left unpaid. Therapist who accept insurance have to see more clients which may tax them emotionally and insurance companies will only pay them for 40-45 minutes which means shorter session times, these factors effect you as a consumer.
People who pay more for therapy are usually more invested and it shows in their results. They make the most of every session, they do their homework, and they get great results. You are worth it. If you take the work seriously, you will see your investment pay off in every area of your life.
What if you can not afford to pay the full fee but you also want to make sure you get a great therapist? Fortunately, there is sometimes an in-between option.
Depending on your insurance, you may be able to get reimbursed for out of network benefits, which can mean a savings of up to 80%. This is typically available with PPO plans. To find out, call the number on the back of your insurance card and ask how much your plan pays for out of network therapists.
Then, if you do have out of network benefits, ask your therapist if he/she can provide a superbill for you to submit to your insurance for reimbursement. You will pay your therapist for the sessions up front but your insurance company will reimburse you for some of the session fees. Not every insurance plan has this benefit but it’s definitely worth a phone call to ask.
The other option is that you can use your Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to pay for therapy. This allows you to save money because you are paying with pre-tax dollars.
Therapy with the right counselor often does not take as long as you think and is a worthwhile investment.