One of the the biggest deterrents from attending therapy is the expense of it. The cost of therapy doesn’t have to be a barrier to care though. There are multiple ways to pay for therapy and get adequate care without breaking the bank.
Utilizing your insurance is one of the most common ways to pay for therapy. In California, it is reported that approximately 58% of therapists accept insurance in some form. Your medical insurance provider should be able to give you a list of therapists in your area that accept your insurance, what the copay may be (or if you will be reimbursed), and if there are any restrictions on services (i.e. a diagnosis is needed, limit on amount of sessions, etc.). If you have a HSA or FSA account attached to your insurance, this could be a way to put money away to cover the cost of therapy as well.
As of January 1st, 2022, if you are interested in working with an “Out-of-Network” provider, they should also provide you with a “Good Faith Estimate” of services. Learn a little more about GFEs here.
Looking into additional mental health coverage through an employer is another great way to access mental health treatment. Some employers will provide additional EAP services that cover counseling. While others may provide wellness treatment reimbursement, meaning they will reimburse you for certain wellness related services you paid for out-of-pocket. Check in with your human resources department to see if they have additional services you can tap into.
Now as noted above, about 58% of therapists in California accept insurance, which means about 42% do not. This is common due to the fact that not long ago health insurance did not cover the cost of behavioral health services. This often is a preferred method for covering the cost of therapy amongst consumers for various reasons. One being the paper trail of their diagnosis that is left behind when they are treated through an insurance provider. One may not want a diagnosis attached to their medical record. In other cases, many people attend therapy to prevent reaching a point of having a clinically diagnos-able disorder. Preventative therapy treatment is often times not covered by insurance providers.
On the therapist’s end, it is also very likely that an insurance provider would reimburse a therapist at a much lower rate than their out-of-pocket fee. This often is a barrier for therapists paneling with an insurance carrier, while also trying to make a living.
Sliding Scale Services
Sliding scale services are often times a way therapists make services more accessible. A therapist may offer a lower fee per session for a certain amount of time in order to provide services to clients that have financial barriers to accessing therapy. If you currently work with a therapist and are experiencing financial hardship, a therapist will often implement a sliding scale rate so your therapy treatment is not interrupted. Associate therapists often also provide sliding scale services because they are still in training to become a licensed provider. Therapy directories like Open Path Collective also provide a list of providers who offer sliding scale services.
Community Based Agencies
Due to the type of work therapists do, there is an abundance of non-profits and community based agencies that provide mental health services to various degrees. Often times these agencies partner with local schools, universities, or county governments to provide specific types of services to the community. Services range from school-based services for students to agencies focused on specific types of diagnoses. These agencies do amazing work supporting local communities and making mental health treatment more accessible.
Ideally, the cost of therapy would not be a barrier to treatment. When considering whether to seek out therapy services consider the benefits that you are getting from that experience. The improvement in your overall health & wellness is hard to put a price on. Making some adjustments to your budget temporarily to gain the tools and peace of mind needed to show up in your life as your best self may just be worth it.
If you are hoping to start therapy services and are a California resident feel free to schedule a free consultation here.