In honor of the most recent security breach involving a big name health insurance provider, let’s talk about benefits to paying for therapy out-of-pocket. Many people believe counseling is only possible if insurance pays for it. Not only is this a myth, but in fact, there are several benefits to paying for insurance out-of-pocket.
- Freedom: When you pay out-of-pocket for counseling, you’re not forced to get a referral from your primary care physician to see a therapist. If you choose to pay out-of-pocket, you’re not limited to a short list of in-network providers. There are many great therapists who choose not to accept insurance for various reasons. You could be missing out on excellent care because you’re forced to see a therapist your insurance company chooses for you.
- Control: The idea of paying your co-pay for therapy and relying on your insurance to cover the rest sounds like a great idea. Have you ever borrowed money from an in-law? Did that money come with unwanted entitlement or strings attached? That’s how I view insurance companies. If you use their money, you are forced to play by their rules. That means you’re limited to the frequency and duration of sessions. In some cases, the therapist is told what type of therapy they can/cannot do. Last week, I called an insurance company to inquire about out-of-network benefits; the representative gave me in-network benefits. The list of stipulations went on and on! Do you want someone who has never met you to decide what is best for your health? Or, would you prefer that decision be made between you and your therapist?
- Labels. Did you know if you use insurance for mental health benefits, the therapist is required to give you a diagnosis? Did you know that diagnosis follows you for the rest of your life? Here’s a life example for you. I was in the process of getting life insurance a couple of years ago. I received a diagnosis of depression when I was 15 years old and would you believe, that still had an impact on my life insurance premiums! More times than not, a mental health diagnosis is considered a pre-existing condition.
- Confidentiality. Your therapist is required to keep what you discuss in a session confidential. When you choose to pay out-of-pocket, your therapist can guarantee confidentiality. If you choose to use your insurance, your therapist is required to provide the insurance company with requested information, which more times than not, is personal and private information you disclose in your sessions. The information is entered into your provider’s computer system to decide if they will continue to cover your therapy. What if your insurance company’s computer system gets hacked?
If you’re worried about the cost of counseling, discuss your financial options with your therapist.
If you are looking for a therapist for yourself or your teen, but you’re not sure if you can afford it, call to schedule an appointment. I have several options that make therapy affordable, while giving you total control over your mental health care.