• Claudia Abalo, LMHC

You Cannot Afford to Not Go to Counseling

You Cannot Afford NOT To Go To Counseling

One of the reasons many people do not go to counseling is due to costs. Some medical insurance companies do not cover mental health services and the out of pocket expenses (private pay) are sometimes too high. But you cannot afford not to go to counseling if you need it. So what are you to do? I have taken the liberty of breaking down the negatives and positives of each so that you can decide which one is right for you.

Using your medical insurance to cover mental health services: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

THE GOOD: Some medical insurance companies offer free mental health services through your employer’s Employee Assistance Program. This program allows you six free counseling sessions. Now, while this is a great opportunity for some people dealing with minor issues and empty pockets, those with deeper issues do not begin to scratch the surface of their treatment at just six sessions and are left hanging after the sessions are done.

THE BAD: Some insurance companies cover a portion of mental health services, but you still have to come up with the money for their copay.

Other insurance companies require you to pay a deductible before you are covered for mental health services, and some deductibles are so high that you might as well pay out of pocket for the counseling sessions.

THE UGLY: What some see as the main negative in using medical insurance to pay for mental health services is that you will be diagnosed when seen by a professional. Insurance companies REQUIRE a diagnosis in order for them to pay the provider for the session, so the counselor HAS TO DIAGNOSE YOU. Some people see this as a positive because they want the additional resources that come with being diagnosed with a mental health disorder. But for those that are having temporary problems, this diagnosis is placed in their medical records indefinitely.

More negatives; the insurance company determines the treatment plan for your case, not you and your counselor. Progress notes and treatment plans are divulged to the insurance companies, therefore there isn’t complete confidentiality.

Using private pray to cover mental health services: the good, the bad, and the ugly:

THE GOOD: In using out of pocket (private pay) to pay for counseling services you are more in control of your mental health services. You choose what provider to see in accordance with their fees and what you are willing to pay. You can reach out to providers that can see you on a “sliding scale” (a less amount than they usually charge) or that offer discounts (i.e. Military status or current student).

You can also continue counseling for as long as you want with private pay. You are not limited to the number of sessions as you would be using medical insurance.

Keep in mind that many providers accept credit cards and/or offer payment plans as well.

Also, the counseling sessions are completely confidential, no third party knows what was discussed in therapy.

THE BAD: In using private pay you will not get diagnosed and for some this is a negative. Many people go to counseling with the question “what’s wrong with me?” and while a possible diagnosis might be discussed with the counselor, there isn’t a formal diagnosis to be applied to your medical records.

THE UGLY: In using private pay for mental health services, it can become quite expensive. Most providers charge anywhere from $80-$150 (or more in some states) per session. If you are needing weekly sessions, this can amount quickly. Adding to your debt may only add to the problems you are already having, so we don’t want to do that!

Ultimately if you are struggling with a problem, issue, or situation, it is imperative that you seek help and I hope you do get help you need. The way you get that help is entirely up to you. How much is too much to pay for peace of mind, the renewal of a relationship, or finally finding freedom in an area of life that has previously seemed unattainable? What is the change you are seeking worth to you? Whether you can afford to use medical insurance or private pay, you cannot afford not to go to counseling!

Sending you peace and blessings,

Claudia Abalo. LMHC