Mental Healthcare is as important as physical healthcare. Not only can therapy increase your general satisfaction with your life, but it can improve the quality of your relationships, increase job and academic performance, and may even be able to help you live longer by reducing the levels of stress that shave years off your life.
Like other high quality and professional services, therapy can be expensive. If your budget is tight, and you're concerned about accessing quality care, there are several things you can do that will help you get the care you're looking for.
1. PPO Plans
Many of the best mental health providers don't take insurance or are out of network. What many people don't realize is that they can still see their mental health provider of choice with an insurance plan that covers out of network providers such as a PPO.
What to do: During the annual open enrollment period, review the coverage options for mental health. Select a plan that allows you to select any provider you want to see. Review the deductible and reimbursement rates for Out of Network providers and select the one that fits your budget.
Employers often offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to their employees. These are special savings accounts that allow you to put aside a certain amount of money with each paycheck, often without having to pay federal taxes.
What to do: Talk to your Human Resources Department to get information about your company's HSA. Calculate the number of therapy sessions you want for the year and multiply it by your provider's session fee to determine how much you need to put in your HSA.
3. Credit Cards
When a provider doesn't accept insurance, many people are concerned about having to wait for an Out of Network reimbursement. For the average person, this can be daunting. Many people find credit cards helpful in these cases.
What to do: Charge your session fee onto a specific credit card. Once your reimbursement arrives from your insurance company, use that money to pay towards the balance. Remember: Unless your insurance plan offers 100% reimbursement, you will need to make sure you budget for the remainder so that your credit card debt remains manageable.
4. Financial Aid
If you are a student, you may be eligible to request additional financial aid to support treatment that will allow you to reach your academic goals.
What to do: Talk to your Financial Aid department to explore your options.
5. Sliding Scale Providers
Mental healthcare providers are encouraged to give back to the community and will offer a certain number of sliding scale slots on their caseload. Additionally, many mental healthcare providers that are working to complete licensure in their state will offer reduced fees for sessions. Often these are post-graduate clinicians- even full doctors!- that are fully competent and able to provide quality care.
What to do: Contact your mental healthcare provider to ask if they have any available slots for a sliding scale client. If not, ask to be included on their wait list or if they have any clinicians in their practice that work on a sliding scale.
Although mental healthcare can be expensive, many may be willing to work with you on finding a price you can afford. High quality providers often charge $150-250 per session. Consider how much you can reasonably afford per session or per month. Remember that a month of therapy could be as much as a car payment, but the benefits may change the course of your life!
What to do: Call your provider and discuss what you can afford. If you provider is unable to lower the fee, see if he/she/they are willing to provide you with a temporary break in fee (e.g., pay a reduced fee for 6 months or until you graduate from school). Although private practitioners are business owners, we are healers first and are often willing to work with someone on their way to a healthier life.