Does online therapy take insurance? – Forbes Health

Online therapy offers an array of benefits: therapists may be able to treat more patients virtually than they can physically, and patients can receive healthcare from the comfort of their home or office. . The quality of online therapy is just as effective as that of in-person sessions, according to research. Plus, it can be more convenient and time-saving for patients seeking help for mental health issues.

Indeed, online therapy is becoming an increasingly widely accepted health benefit. And, because regular therapy sessions can be expensive, with many relying on health insurance to cover the bill, some insurers offer options that cover an array of telehealth services.

In fact, before COVID-19, Medicare and many private insurers often didn’t cover telehealth — and if they did, coverage was inconsistent, with some only reimbursing teletherapy performed over video, but not over the phone, notes Yasmine. Saad, Ph.D., psychologist and founder and CEO of Madison Park Psychological Services in New York City. Now, Medicare is allowing providers to use telehealth for therapy and other counseling services under the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020, which expanded access to mental health care. delivered online.

For Medicare specifically, patients pay largely the same price for therapy online as they do in person, according to the agency’s website. Some states, however, have their own rules, which require professionals providing certain services such as behavioral health to be licensed in the same state where the patient lives. It is therefore important to check your coverage beforehand with the therapy service or the insurer.

However, coverage for online care depends on your insurance company, not the therapy service. Each online therapy service has guidelines on which insurance plans they accept, as well as the types of mental health areas covered by their specialists. You can find a myriad of behavioral health issues covered, including grief, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, teen counseling, and medication management services with a particular online service. But you may need to choose a different one for more serious behavioral health issues.

How online therapy insurance differs from in-person coverage

Online therapy typically costs less than in-person sessions because therapists’ overhead costs (such as office rent) are reduced, according to Bethany Cook, an adjunct professor and board-certified music therapist in Chicago.

Many states have established rules for fully insured private plans to reimburse online therapy the same as in-person care. If you want to get help online, your first step should be to find out if your policy offers similar benefits to in-person therapy.

In terms of mental health, the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Substance Abuse Equity Act of 2008 requires medical professionals to include mental and behavioral health in their offerings. The Parity Act casts a wide net, typically offering coverage through employer-sponsored health plans for companies with 50 or more employees, coverage purchased through the Affordable Care Act, the Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP) and most Medicaid programs.

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