Alternatives to Insurance for Mental Health Care

 

It can be hard to access competent mental health care when you need it most.

While some progress has been made in requiring insurances to cover mental health needs, it can still be difficult to find good practitioners who are in your network. And even in those cases, insurance plans may have a high deductible, which can mean you will pay out of pocket for mental health services for months. And because of high administrative burden coupled with extremely low coverage rates, a considerable number of practices do not participate in insurance coverage networks.

As one practice put it, “reduced rates, extensive paperwork and rigid restrictions that are imposed on therapists by the insurance companies has pushed many of the most talented therapists away from working on insurance panels.”

So how can you get the mental health care you need?

Reimbursement: this is similar to the model used by many dental care practices. You do have to pay up front, but then your insurance company reimburses you or at least puts your payment towards your deductible for the year.

How it works: You pay your session fee at the time of service, and your therapist’s practice gives you a receipt that you send to your insurance company. Some companies also require a form or set of forms to be filled out. Some practices offer reimbursement service, that is, they will send in the receipt and forms for you.

While our practice does offer reimbursement services, not every psychology practice does. If your therapist does not, you can call your insurance company for instructions, or you may even want to try a fee-for-reimbursement app service such as Better.

Need-based programs: This may include sliding-scale fees such as community clinics may offer, which usually means clinicians are donating their time. This model may also include a discount clearinghouse service such as Open Path Collective, which allows low-income patients to find a therapist who is able to offer some sessions at a discount. Some practices also offer scholarships for those who are in financial need and do not have access. There may be a waiting list for free or nominal-cost services.

How it works: Services such as Open Path require signing up online. It’s a good idea to make sure there are therapists with openings in your location (usually our practice does have a few!) before paying a membership fee. For in-house sliding-scale or scholarship treatments, practices may require you to show that you are in financial need; there may also be a waiting list.

Professional Discounts: Practices may have agreements with local organizations such as businesses, schools and colleges, or medical facilities, so that their employees or students can get a discount. Sometimes this may be in the form of an EAP (employee assistance program) and sometimes it may be a different kind of arrangement.

How it works: If your workplace has an EAP (our practice participates with Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP as well as Quest EAP), ask what mental health services may be available. Often you can get 3-5 sessions for free. If your college has a counseling center, you may attend sessions there, or they may offer referrals to local practitioners. Otherwise you can ask your therapist directly what professional discounts they offer. Usually this will involve filling out a form of some kind. (Our practice offers certain professional discounts that are listed at the bottom of our financials page.)

Bottom line, if you are not sure what discounts may be available, please ask your therapist!

Online Services: Some practices may offer online sessions or may even specialize in only online services for somewhat of a discount. It’s important to carefully review any online therapy service you use to make sure they are legitimate, licensed, and well-reviewed. Online services are usually not appropriate for those under 18 except in rare circumstances. (Our practice does not currently offer online services.)

Support Groups: Most areas have a number of support groups for various issues that are peer-led, that is, you’re talking with others who may be experiencing similar issues as yours. You may want to look at Healthfinder, for example.

 

 

For more in-depth discussion of how to use out-of-network benefits, see wellbeing.com‘s page.

 

 

2019 Therapy Scholarship for Low-Income Marginalized Individuals

YOUR DONATIONS ARE KEEPING OUR DOORS OPEN — THANK YOU!

(Click logo above to) Donate to Therapy Scholarship for Low-Income Marginalized Individuals

Often, members of minority and marginalized groups have the greatest need for therapy to help recover from injurious life experiences and environments. However, for the same reason, they are also the most likely to be unable to afford treatment.

This Therapy Scholarship will help to fund low or no-cost therapy in 2019 for low-income individuals with a qualified professional therapist. Your donation helps keep the utilities and rent paid here at ILC&P while we see clients!

Most applicants occupy at least two minority statuses, such as ability, race, gender, orientation, or others. Treating psychologist(s)/therapist(s) will approve clients’ appropriateness for treatment and need for assistance. There is a waiting list for further applicants as funds become available.

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Last Year (2018)

Donors to the 2018 campaign provided $475 towards 40 scholarship sessions ($3880) for low-income marginalized clients.

Clients themselves contributed $484 in partial payments towards the sessions (no more than $15/session for those who contributed).

Treating therapist(s) donated the balance of their time ($2920).

In addition to scholarship sessions, treating therapist(s) also provided 98 discounted sessions through Open Path, a service for low-income clients. Treating therapist(s) donated the balance of $6,025 worth of session hours.

Food Stamps Affected by Shutdown: Be Prepared!

An important alert via Dr. Latinia Shell:

“Please spread the word! Anyone who receives Food Stamps will receive their February benefit Friday January 18th. This will be the last Food Stamp benefit until the Government Shutdown is lifted. This was confirmed today on WGAL by News Reporter Ron Martin.”

Other related resources:

Area food banks listed here.

Local soup kitchens and food banks listed here.

Pennsylvania United Way link here for comprehensive assistance resources (or dial 2-1-1). If using the website you can use search terms such as “food, Lancaster” to show multiple resources.