I am often asked questions by new and prospective clients about health insurance for mental health. First of all, if your health insurance is through and HMO you must be seen by the limited number of mental health professionals that are part of that network. If your insurance is a PPO, you can see any licensed mental health provider subject to a larger deductible and larger co-payment. This enables you to have more choice in determining who you want to see. In both cases, when you use health insurance for mental health services, the number of sessions are usually capped or limited per year or per lifetime use.
Another limitation of using health insurance for mental health services is that you need to have a “medical or psychiatric” diagnosis to be eligible. In most cases, “marriage counseling” is NOT a covered service, nor would seeing a psychologist to “improve your tennis or golf game”.
A big consideration in using health insurance for mental health is that there are no guarantees on the confidentiality of your diagnosis and related matters in that once your information is public record it case be lost, stolen or found out if someone knows what they are doing.
Finally, when you use your health insurance for mental health, it can affect you down the road. You may have to answer questions about your current or previous mental health condition which could affect you receiving health insurance or the premiums you pay for health insurance. You may be disqualified or past over when you apply for certain job positions.
In spite of the fact that millions of individuals go to therapists or are on drugs for anxiety, depression and related conditions, there is still a “stigma” associated with having had a mental health condition. When you use your health insurance for mental health services, you are leaving a paper trail and opening up the box.
I realize for many people, the cost of mental health services may just be too expensive to use without the help of insurance. But for those who may need just short term help or can afford it, the freedom to see who you want and the peace of mind knowing others won’t know your business seems to be big pluses in NOT using your health insurance for mental health.