Why You Might Want to Privately Pay For Psychotherapy

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Did you know that many people prefer to pay for their mental health care privately?  You might be thinking, if I have insurance, why would I want to do that?  Privately paying could give you access to more diverse treatment options, improve your confidentiality and privacy, and even save you money depending on your insurance plan.

When therapists are in-network with an insurance company, they are put on the list that clients find for in-network providers.  That doesn't mean that there aren't other providers available and it doesn't mean that those are the best therapists for you.  Therapy is an extremely personal health treatment and choosing the right therapist may mean someone who is out-of-network.  You should be aware of the limitations of using insurance and the options available to you so you can make an informed decision.

Increased Treatment Options

Many insurance plans actually only cover certain treatment modalities and certain time lengths.  For example, your plan might cover a 45 minute session but not an hour.  It may cover only ten sessions per year.  Most limit sessions to one hour unless there is a crisis.  They may also only pay if the Therapist uses a specific treatment for a specific diagnosis.

Imagine if you were to go to a therapist for PTSD.  You've been struggling with symptoms and need relief.  Your insurance company gives you ten sessions.  And you know after talking to a therapist it will probably take longer than those sessions to get relief.  While there was one incident that seems to have started it, there may be other experiences that are causing you to struggle.  So you head in to your Therapist's office and explain that you had a car accident and now have PTSD.  You and the Therapist begin working with the symptoms and the "cause." You begin feeling better.  In fact, you didn't think you could feel this good this quickly.  However, something happens to trigger symptoms.  But guess what, you are out of sessions.  Now what?

When you opt to pay privately, you and the Therapist are in charge of the frequency of your appointments, the style of treatment you receive, the length of your appointments, and the number of sessions you have per year.  You and your Therapist are in control and not an insurance company. 

Increased Privacy

If you use a hospital or clinic network for your healthcare and use multiple practitioners there, such as your OBGYN, Primary Care Physician, and Dermatologist, often they all have access to your health records.  That means that if you add a Psychotherapist to that list, your Dermatologist has access to your therapy records.  Understandably, some people are not comfortable with that.

If you are paying for your treatment with insurance, the insurance company can request copies of your records at their discretion.  They use those to determine your eligibility and if they are going to continue to pay for your treatment and not only can they request them at any time, but can request as much information as they want.  Insurance also requires lengthy documentation from therapists to justify treatment.

Insurance companies also require a diagnosis for billing.  This means that a diagnosis is going to go on your medical record.  This can affect health or life insurance choices later on.  It can even affect security screenings for some forms of employment!   And did you know that different insurance policies pay for different diagnoses?  You may not even be covered for what you are seeking help for, causing you to have to pay out of pocket for sessions regardless.  In addition, different policies will only cover certain treatment modalities for different diagnosis.  They are in charge when they are the ones paying for your care. 

By paying privately your privacy is ensured, you are not required to have a diagnosis, and you remain in control of your treatment.

You Can Actually Save Money!

Depending on your policy and your deductible, you may even save money if you opt to use an out-of-network therapist.  Some people have for example a $6,000.00 deductible.  If this is you, then you will have to pay the first $6,000.00 out of pocket.  If however, you have good out-of-network insurance, they may cover up to 80% depending on your policy and Therapist's fees if your therapist is out-of-network.