Updated: Aug 9
Mental health counseling has numerous benefits, both for those who suffer with debilitating mental illnesses and for those who struggle with normal ups and downs of life. In other words, you do not need to have a diagnosable mental health disorder that limits your ability to accomplish daily tasks in order to find great benefit from seeing a therapist who listens, validates, and acts as an objective party to help you navigate challenges.
Since therapy is a service that has value no matter your current situation or mental and emotional state, it is important that the cost of this potentially life saving service can fit into your regular budget without becoming a stressor in itself.
Using your medical insurance plan is one way to help reduce the cost of acute or ongoing mental health care. However, there are many reasons why some may find that using insurance is not the best option for them.
Pros to Using Insurance to Pay for Mental Health Therapy
1. Reduced Out of Pocket Cost to Make Treatment Accessible
If your insurance plan includes coverage for behavioral health services and you have met your deductible, then the cost of therapy may be fully covered by your insurance plan. There are federal and state laws called "Parity" laws which require that health insurance companies cover services for mental and behavioral health conditions the same way they cover other medical conditions, like diabetes or heart disease.
Due to Parity laws, there is a good chance that your plan has some coverage for therapy services, but how much money this will save you compared to paying out of pocket will vary based on the plan you have. Your therapist can provide an overview of plan coverages, copay, and deductibles that you are responsible for paying if you use your insurance plan for counseling services. A conversation with a therapist will help you determine if using your plan will save you enough money to overlook some of the cons below.
2. It May Help Improve Consistency in Care
Since health insurance may cover all or part of the cost of therapy services, you may be able to afford to attend therapy sessions more often, like on a weekly basis, rather than biweekly or once per month. Consistent engagement in therapy can help you to make progress and meet therapy goals faster or more efficiently.
Meeting with your therapist often and on a routine basis means that your therapist is able to get frequent updates on your life and can assess how well interventions are helping you to progress toward accomplishing goals. Filling your therapist in on events that happened during the past week, rather than the past three weeks, allows for more session time to be spent on deeper processing of emotions and thinking patterns related to those events.
3. Payments May Help You Meet Your Deductible
Therapy may be just one of many medical services you are needing to thrive. When this is the case and you have a high deductible, it can be difficult to reach that deductible so that insurance start kicking in payments towards medical care. If you use insurance for counseling services and are paying a copay for that therapy, you continue to have an out of pocket cost . . . but at least that cost may be applied towards meeting your deductible and reducing overall out of pocket medical expenses later in the year.