Many individuals would like to do counseling. But, understandably, they worry about the cost of counseling. Being able to use insurance benefits
makes seeing a good counselor regularly much more affordable. The good news is that, especially in recent years, it is much easier to use your insurance benefits to cover the cost of counseling.
In the past it was harder to get counseling sessions covered by insurance. Thankfully, that is changing due to new rules and guidelines by insurance companies. Being able to use insurance benefits to cover the costs of counseling sessions can make getting professional help much more accessible.
However, using your insurance benefits comes with some costs too. It’s important to educate yourself about the pros and cons of using insurance benefits to pay for counseling so that you can make the best choice.
Using Insurance Benefits To Cover Counseling: Pros and Cons
Pros: The Cost
You may only have to pay the cost of your co-pay every time you see your counselor.
Cons: Having a Psychiatric Diagnosis on Your Medical Record
On the surface, using insurance benefits to cover the cost of counseling sounds great — why wouldn’t you? The truth is that it has some downsides. The biggest is this: Having a psychiatric diagnosis on your medical record. The only way to use your insurance benefits for any type of counseling or therapy is if you meet criteria for a mental illness that requires “medically necessary” counseling or coaching to treat.
In order to get insurance to pay for counseling you will need to meet criteria for a mental health diagnosis likeanxiety, depression, or ADHD. The most common diagnoses for people in counseling include Anxiety, Depression, and “Adjustment Disorders.” When you meet with your counselor for your initial consultation session, you can talk with them about whether or not either you meet criteria for one of these disorders.
While for some people this is not an issue at all, some high-level professionals can face unexpected consequences if they have a documented psychiatric diagnosis on their medical record. For example, airline pilots, law enforcement officers, people with security clearances, and medical professionals prefer to keep their personal growth and relationship work private.
Another reason why some individuals prefer to not use their insurance benefits to pay for marriage counseling is that therapists who are in-network with insurance companies might have to divulge detailed information about what is being discussed in counseling sessions. This is troubling to some people, particularly when discussing extremely sensitive topics such as addiction, medication, sexuality, affairs, substance use, etc.
Cons: Session Limits
Another limitation of using your insurance for counseling is that in-network therapists are often limited to the number of sessions that you are entitled to. While some problems can be addressed with short term therapy, it’s also true that many people need more support to successfully and permanently shift long-standing patterns. When forced to end counseling prematurely due to limitations of insurance coverage (and the problems resume) you can mistakenly conclude that “counseling didn’t work” and begin to lose hope for change.
Cons: Access to a Good Counselor
Furthermore, even when people are totally okay with having a diagnosis on their record and are not concerned about confidentiality, or having session limits, people seeking to find a good, in-network therapist are often very frustrated. Why? Insurance companies panel only a few counselors in each community. Those counselors are often full and not accepting new clients.
Unfortunately many individuals who really want to use their in-network benefits settle for any counselor who is able to see them. The in-network counselor may not be the best fit in terms of personality, training, experience, location, hours, or the right specialization.
It’s up to you. Weigh the pros and cons of an in-network therapist or not.