Many of us are working from home, using delivery services to get groceries and streaming movies versus going to the theater. This, of course, is all because of the need to socially-distance to reduce the rate of transmission of the Coronavirus.
Part of this shift to a “new normal” has been the rise of online therapy.
Virtual therapy and telehealth already existed before the pandemic. However, now many more therapists and counselors who originally saw patients in an office setting are going online.
It’s certainly more convenient than going to the office. But will your insurance company cover the cost?
Getting that answer might require some work. Here’s how you can find out.
Start Where You Are…
If you already have been seeing a therapist for counseling, consider what coverage your plan already provides for therapy. It might be that counseling is 100% covered by your plan if you see a therapist who is in their provider network. Or they may cover at least a certain percentage of the cost.
Review with your therapist what your billing arrangement is and whether or not that will change with the shift to online therapy. If your therapist doesn’t already know they may be able to ask their billing specialist/contractor.
…Even When You Are Beginning Your Journey
It’s no wonder that during these times many people are beginning to see a therapist for the first time. If that’s the case for you, then you will want to know if your insurance coverage includes online therapy.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Review your plan to determine if coverage applies, and how much. Remember that plans vary not just by company, but by region and state.
When in doubt, ask! Call their customer service line, send an email, or engage in an online chat.
Research therapists in your area and who also are in your provider network. They may say on their website which insurance companies provide coverage. If not, send a message or call to ask.
What If You Have Medicaid or Medicare Coverage?
According to Medicare.gov, Medicare Part B will provide coverage for “certain telehealth services.” For instance, those who are in treatment for substance abuse or who have a co-occurring mental health issue qualify for telehealth services. It also notes that those with Medicare Advantage plans may qualify for additional services.
Moreover, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (cms.gov) states that Medicare is authorized to expand telehealth coverage under the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. And Medicaid may also provide coverage for telehealth services. However, coverage is dependent on a state-by-state basis, so it’s best to check with the state agency in charge of Medicaid.
Using a 100% Online Therapy Service
Even before the pandemic online therapy services were offering treatment to clients. This could vary depending on what you wanted and what the service provided. For instance, there is the option where you and a therapist have a session via a video link. Or you could be texting with a therapist.
Whether or not your insurance company provides partial or full coverage depends on the company and the laws of the state you live in. Again, when in doubt, ask your insurance carrier and check the provider’s website. Also, keep in mind some companies such as Anthem offer their own online therapy services.
Online therapy is such a helpful tool for accessing needed mental health care nowadays. It’s important during these difficult times that you can utilize all the tools available to you. The process of finding out if your insurance pays for the services, however, can seem daunting. But you can simplify it by checking with your therapist and contacting the insurance company about your options.
If you want to learn more about online therapy with Luminous Counseling and whether you are covered, I invite you to reach out to us, 256-686-9195.