Why You May Be Better Off Skipping Insurance for Therapy
As a busy psychologist in Littleton, I work to provide the best treatment at an affordable cost. For many, this means working with and utilizing health insurance benefits to pay for therapy costs. Especially since many new mental health and substance abuse treatment options have become part of “standard” healthcare packages in the few years due to recent federal policy changes, more and more people are seeking mental health providers in Colorado who take health insurance. While this does have the potential to save your family money on these costs, there are also some reasons why you might be better off skipping the insurance for therapy. Read on to find out the most common health insurance issues my patients in couples therapy and ADHD counseling in Littleton have experienced.
- Long waits. Many insurance providers are booked up, often for months! If you have a time-sensitive mental health need, waiting until the next season to get help may not work for you.
- Mental illness diagnosis. Unlike your physician or pediatrician’s office, your insurance does not allow you to head into a psychologist’s office for a “check up” or even “follow up.” In fact, without a diagnosed mental illness, your insurance won’t cover your costs. This can be very difficult for parents seeking to learn new parent strategies from a child behavior psychologist, or for couples who simply want to learn how to communicate better. Speaking of couples…
- …Only one person in the couple is the “patient.” The way that health insurance works is to code couple’s counseling sessions the same as an individual counseling session with a family member present—just like you might have if you were very depressed and needed a family member to help explain your current functioning. This means that one partner must be designated as the “patient,” while the other is simply “attending” the session.
- Pre-existing conditions. Mental health diagnoses can be considered pre-existing conditions. Something as simple as chatting briefly with a counselor in Highlands Ranch for ADHD counseling can indicate to your insurance company that you’ve had this problem—and may hinder you from getting competitive rates in the future.
- Time vs. money. With health insurance comes paperwork, phone calls, and a lot of time spent making sure you meet your deductibles, pay only your co-pay, and do not exceed your yearly limits. Some insurance companies may ask that you submit additional paperwork to “prove” that you still need services. At the end of the day, you may find that your health insurance covers so little that you may have been better using a Health Savings Account or Flex Spending Account to cover these costs.
- Confidentiality and Control. When you meet with a mental health provider, you are told that your information remains confidential, private, and protected by law… with certain exceptions, including compliance with health insurance requests and requirements. While your psychologist will work to keep your information as confidential as possible, we cannot control the actions of your health insurance company. For 100% peace of mind about your health information, self-pay protects you the best.
Dr. Steve Lazarus provides counseling and couple’s therapy in Littleton and Highlands Ranch. While he does take some health insurance, he encourages all clients to weigh the pros and cons of using this sort of payment, and is open to discussing these concerns further in a free, 15-minute phone consultation.
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