You know how it is…you call around looking for a therapist and increasingly none are taking insurance. You may get frustrated and wonder what’s the point in insurance if nobody accepts it? You might just go to anyone who takes your insurance because that’s the point in having insurance, right?
To you, it may not make much sense as to why so many therapists are opting to not go on insurance panels. Let’s stop to think about some of the possible reasons, though, so when you are looking for a therapist, you find the right one for you, whether or not they take insurance.
If you look for a therapist solely based on whether they take your insurance, among other downsides, you may actually be wasting your money and your time. Not only will this affect you getting your goals met, it will affect your opinion on therapy as a whole if you do not get your goals met.
Coming to therapy is such a personal journey. There is so much information on the internet that you do not have to settle for just any therapist. Each of us come to the table with a different set of honed skills and a different approach.
Frequently, people will just start calling around after they’ve decided they’ve had enough and need a therapist. They do not stop to contemplate whether this is the right therapist for them. Then, asking whether they accept your insurance seems valid. On the other hand, if you take the time to do some research and find the right therapist for you, cost isn’t as important. Getting your goals met in the most efficient way is.
Let’s say that you are struggling with depression. You go onto Psychology Today’s website (or another such as Good Therapy, Theravive, etc) and search for therapists in your area specializing in depression and taking your insurance. You see that there are 10 nearby. You just start calling.
What do you really know about this person? Did you look at their profile? Did you follow the link to look at their website? Did you do a Google Search on them?
By doing some research, you might find out that this person who accepts your insurance and helps with depression doesn’t have a lot of info on them elsewhere. That is not a good or bad thing. But what if you find that this person who accepts your insurance and helps with depression has several blogs on their website? What if you found out they go into the community and talk with people at the library? Which of those two are you more likely to call?
Now, what if the second person didn’t accept your insurance. Would you just blow them off? Maybe you call and find out that they have a sliding scale fee which is more realistic for you. Maybe by talking to them, you feel an instant connection, like “this person really gets me.” Even though they don’t take your insurance, you may be more likely to consider this person versus the one who had no information about them on the internet.
I am not saying look for someone who has info about them all over the internet. I am not saying that if someone doesn’t have information about them, they are not a good therapist. I am simply saying finding a therapist should take a bit more time than randomly calling someone out of the phone book. Take the time to find the right therapist for you.
A lot of people struggle with money and want something inexpensive. More expensive does not always equal better quality. You are not alone if you would rather pay a copay than a full fee. However, with just a few minutes of research, you might actually save yourself time and money in the long run.
I know right now it still makes sense to see someone for less money. However, by understanding just a few reasons why a therapist opts not to take insurance, you may lessen the grip the insurance mindset has over you and find yourself the best therapist to meet your needs.
Keep reading for 6 reasons therapists opt not to be on insurance panels
CHOOSING THE RIGHT THERAPIST FOR ME VERSUS PICKING ANYONE
The biggest downside to just picking anyone from the phonebook is you are gambling with your goals. You may find a good therapist. This used to be the only way to find a therapist and isn’t a “bad” way. However, with all the information on the internet today, you don’t have to gamble with your goals.
It may take you longer to reach your goals or you may not feel connected to the therapist at all and just be spinning your wheels. The number one indicator of how well therapy will work is the therapeutic relationship. If you don’t feel comfortable with your therapist, you are less likely to be honest with them and thus it’ll take a lot longer to meet your goals.
Taking this gamble is fine. Again, it used to be the only way to find a therapist. But why do it when you don’t need to? Why not look into the therapist a bit more; know who you’re going to before you go.
FINDING THE BEST THERAPIST
There is a wealth of information on the internet and whereas you can pick anyone and will likely get your goals met, you probably want them met in as little time and with as little money spent as possible. This DIY attitude is very prevalent today. Many of us want to do things ourselves and not have to rely on others.
What if you were looking for a therapist and you found this therapist had a blog? You read the blog and implement some of the strategies. As you look through their website or google more, you find that they also have a youtube page. You start listening to that and incorporating that with what you’ve read in the therapist’s blogs.
As you continue to peruse their website, read their blogs, and watch their youtube videos, you start to feel more of a connection to this therapist. You almost feel like you’ve already been seeing this therapist. This therapist has gained your attention, and all for free. (Who doesn’t like free)?
Despite what you’ve been doing on your own, you still aren’t quite where you want to be. Can this therapist do more if I actually spoke with them? Absolutely! There is so much that happens in the therapist’s office that cannot be done as a DIY.
Therapists have several techniques that aren’t a DIY technique that they can help you with. Furthermore, they can be a great source of accountability and an encourager on your journey. They can help you identify negative beliefs about yourself or the world that you may not recognize on your own. They can help you recognize patterns that you may not recognize. Often it is easier to see something from the outside, so therapists have a different view of you than you do of yourself.
The key to finding the right therapist for you is to take your time and find the one that fits you best. It takes a bit more time upfront, but it is easy to do sitting in front of the television in the evening on your laptop or phone.
Do some research on the therapist. Find out who they are, what they’ve done. What they specialize in. Treat finding a therapist as you would finding any other doctor. You can go to a primary care doctor for just about anything, but they’ll likely refer you out if you need more specialized care because nobody can dedicate their career to everything. A therapist is exactly the same. We are able to help you with anything you come to us with, but some therapists do better with kids, some with trauma, some with addiction, etc. Why not go to the therapist that specializes in what you are looking to achieve?
When you find the right therapist who specializes in what you are looking for, and have read their blogs, watched their videos, etc prior to going to them, cost just doesn’t seem to matter as much…as much.
Check out these 6 reasons therapists are opting not to be on insurance panels
- Personal preference
Each therapist has their own reasons for not being on insurance panels. Some may have several reasons, some may have only one. Furthermore, some therapists believe that being on insurance allows them to reach everybody regardless of ability to pay, others believe they can still help everybody as they have a sliding scale.
- Reimbursement is low and barely covers the therapist overhead (hasn’t gone up in years and in fact many carriers have decreased their reimbursement)
This is a reason I hear frequently. The cost of doing business continues to climb, but the reimbursement rates from insurance are staying the same…or even decreasing! I know one insurance panel that actually lowered what they reimburse to therapists at the beginning of last year.
Therapists in private practice have to pay for their own health insurance (that is a huge chunk of their income), malpractice insurance, and rent or mortgage for their office space at a minimum. Additionally, we have to pay for marketing (business cards, online directories, etc), tools to do our business (potentially electronic health records, billing services, etc), and several other expenses that go up each year.
Therapist’s are not doing business to make a fortune. If that’s what a therapist is looking to do, they are in the wrong field.
- Insurance is consistricting, limiting what a therapist can do and how many sessions a client gets
Insurance companies seriously limit what a therapist can get paid to do. Some insurance companies will only authorize a certain number of sessions, which causes a great deal of stress and time to the therapist who has to request more sessions and potentially not even get more. What happens then? You don’t continue with therapy? You pay out of pocket to continue?
Additionally, insurance companies don’t want to pay for longer sessions, so they are limiting how many times you can have an hour session. They just won’t pay for a longer session, so we have to have shorter sessions with you. This often goes against what we want or need to do to help you meet your goals.
Furthermore, insurance companies can ask the therapist for your records. Whereas I understand that they want to make sure they are paying for something necessary, and no fraud is being committed, it also is invasive of your privacy.
- Many plans have a high deductible so you will be paying out of pocket anyway
Many insurance companies are carving out mental health into separate plans. When they do this (and sometimes even when they don’t), mental health and substance abuse treatment has its own deductible that needs to be met before insurance will pay for your sessions. One way or another, at least until you meet your deductible, your likelihood of paying out of pocket is increasing.
If you have to pay out of pocket anyway until you meet your deductible, wouldn’t it make sense to find a therapist who is best suited to help you instead of just anyone you pick at random?
- It can be hard to get on the panels; often they are “closed” to new therapists or have a “wait list”
This is a frustrating aspect for many therapists. The therapist is ready to open their doors and contacts insurance companies to get on their panels, just to hear that they can’t. Either there is a wait list or the company doesn’t “need” any other therapists in that area.
Unfortunately, there’s often more need than there are providers for some insurances, despite the insurance not accepting new therapists onto their panel.
- Insurance requires a diagnosis (just like if you went to the doctor).
A huge factor in many therapists opting out of going on insurance panels is that insurance requires a diagnosis. This makes sense in the medical world. If you see a doctor, you’re seeing a doctor because you have the flu, diabetes, etc. There is a code to bill for a well checkup, but you can only get one per year (limiting how many times a doctor can bill without a diagnosis).
Mental health is much more complex. Maybe there is something diagnosable, but we’re not sure what exactly yet…do you have generalized anxiety or PTSD? Do you have depression or a stress-related disorder? We have to choose something otherwise we cannot bill for the session. This goes for the initial session as well. We don’t even know you that well yet and are saying that you have this or that diagnosis?!
Furthermore, often there isn’t a “diagnosable” problem. You are just very tired and stressed out because work is too demanding, then you come home and have to help the kids with homework, get them to their activities, make sure dinner is on the table, make sure the house is reasonably clean, make sure the kids get to bed, and go through all your other evening requirements, just to do it again tomorrow. Work is so demanding for so many people, making it hard to keep up with the rest of life. There’s nothing “wrong” with you because you’re stressed out, yet we have to put a diagnosis to bill.
Understanding all of the reasons a therapist opts to not take insurance is impossible. It is very complex and very personal to each therapist. This blog is mean to give you some examples so you have a better understanding and can make an informed decision as to who you see for therapy instead of just picking randomly.
You can get very good results from your therapy journey whether you see someone who takes insurance or not. Therapists are here for you; we want you to meet your goals and close out successfully. However, it is important to not discount a therapist just because they do not accept insurance.
Meg Young, LCSW, PLLC is only one therapist out there among many others. I do not accept insurance, but I will help you on your journey, whether it is with me, or me helping you find someone who does accept your insurance. Call me at 941-462-4807 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org today to start your journey.