Insurance may not be an issue for licensed therapists in most states. However, there are states where mental health therapists are required to have insurance in order to treat patients. For example, in Nevada, there is a mandatory waiting period between the date of referral and the actual treatment. In most other states, insurance does not even apply to mental health therapists. According to the American Psychological Association, licensed mental health counselors are an essential part of the mental health care system. Without them, many people with mental health issues would not receive the treatment they need.
What about therapists who work through an agency? Do they accept insurance? Most mental health care agencies will help their therapists accept insurance. They often include it in the benefits they provide to their clients. However, it is probably best to check with your state’s licensing board to ensure you are working with an agency that accepts mental health insurance.
How do therapists directly benefit from having insurance? Insurance can save a therapist time and money. If a client has a problem with a trip to the emergency room, then it might be time to check into an on-call doctor. A good therapist never knows when he or she might need to admit a patient to the hospital. Instead, they make every effort to keep patients in their rooms as long as possible, taking every step to ensure a positive outcome.
Does it cost you money to see a therapist? Usually yes, unless you are receiving Medicaid or Medicare. In those cases, mental health insurance will pay a portion of the fee. However, the fees can vary widely. In general, though, it is probably a good idea to take advantage of mental health insurance if you are seeing therapists on a regular basis.
How do you weed out the good therapists from the bad ones? You will probably need to talk with your therapist. If they are not part of an established organization, ask if they belong to one or more professional organizations. Check with the American Psychological Association as well as the American Medical Association. Asking to speak to a supervisor or director is another way to find a therapist who is reliable and trustworthy.
What about agencies that provide therapy to the public through a fee? Sometimes it is cheaper to go with an agency than it is to go with a therapist directly. Some of these agencies will require a monthly or annual fee.
How do you find out if a given therapist is reliable and reputable? You should probably check their credentials. Call them up and ask how long they have been working in the field. Ask them if they have ever had complaints filed against them and if those were resolved satisfactorily. Be sure to ask if they have ever seen any of your clients in person.
Is your therapist licensed? States have different rules about how to license therapists. Most states require at least a master’s degree in behavioral psychology before a therapist can practice. A few states require a doctorate degree.
Does your therapist work with other health professionals? Sometimes it is tempting to simply “go with the flow” and see what your therapist says, without considering whether that recommendation is right for you. However, if you are struggling with a difficult issue, such as alcohol dependency, it may be better for you to take some time away from therapy and seek professional help from someone who can provide the appropriate treatment. For instance, if your therapist recommends a specific alcohol rehabilitation program, you might take time off from therapy and meet with an alcohol rehabilitation counselor to determine if this is the best option for you.
What about gender specific therapy? There are a variety of therapists who work only with men or with women. It would not make sense for a therapist to accept insurance if they did not treat both men and women clients. Just because a therapist has specialized in working with one sex, does not mean they are qualified to treat you as well.
Will a therapist accept your health insurance if they reject the recommendation for therapy? Not all therapists take insurance; however, if you have health insurance, you should inquire about payment options before seeing a therapist. Some health insurance plans will cover some therapy costs, while others will not. You should also inquire about payment options for any referral services that your therapist accepts.
How does a therapist “opt-in”? In most states, therapists must accept insurance when they receive an income from a client. If your therapist requires a referral to work on a case, you should be able to inform them that you have insurance. In some states, therapists can refuse to accept insurance if they feel it is not necessary. However, if your therapist refuses to accept insurance, you will have to pay out of pocket fees for your therapy.