I invite you to discuss with me any questions or concerns about fees and payments during any session. This might include your ability to afford therapy, how fees in general are set, whether the fees are worth the service you will receive, or something else. Your ability to enter into therapy with confidence is an important part of your growth and reaching your goals.
The fee for psychotherapy services in general varies greatly, based upon many factors. My current fee for new clients and non-regularly-scheduled clients is $165 per therapy hour (50 minutes). Longer sessions can be requested, if desired. If I believe a longer session is in your best interest and I have availability, any time over the initial therapy hour will be pro-rated.
I keep a limited number of reduced fee sessions open for lower-income clients. The fees are based on a sliding scale according to income level. If you are interested in seeing if you might qualify, feel free to inquire to me directly before your first session. All reduced-fee clients are required to show proof of income.
Fees are to be paid at each session; I accept cash, check, or major credit cards. Checks should be made out to Thriving Families. Alternately, you may choose to allow me to keep a current credit card on file; any fees not paid by another means during the session will be charged to the credit card in order to keep the account current.
The desire for clients to use insurance to assist them in paying for treatment in understandable. It seems to make good financial sense to use benefits you have acquired to help pay for therapy. Who doesn't want to save money?
Many therapists choose to accept a third-party payer (typically insurance companies) for their services. As a contracted provider, the therapist uses the insurance company essentially as a referral service. In exchange for these referrals, therapists agree to accept a lower rate of payment for their services. Many therapists find that joining one or more insurance panels is a good way to quickly fill their work hours with client appointments. Many therapists find marketing services and negotiating fees directly with clients to be tasks they prefer not to do; they would rather spend time doing what they love doing - helping people.
In short, many good people use insurance as a part of psychotherapy treatment.
Despite all that, after careful consideration, I have chosen to not contract with any insurance companies to be a part of their referral network. I have made this choice based on my desire to provide the highest quality of service for my clients. For reasons I will explain below, I believe that being on one or more insurance panels would compromise the quality of care I would be able to provide to my clients, and that is something I'm not willing to do.
There are a number of options for my clients who would like to consider using their insurance benefits as a part of their treatment.
You are welcome to request payment from your insurance company for services you receive from me. I will be glad to provide you with a super bill that you may submit to insurance for potential reimbursement. Note that there may be limits on the reimbursement you may receive, based on the contracted agreement you have with your insurance company. I suggest that you read your insurance contract and/or speak with a knowledgeable insurance company representative about the limits of your benefits. The following are some of the common considerations:
Some insurance companies will not reimburse for therapy services provided by a pre-licensed MFT associate. This consideration is not a concern for my clients, since I am a fully licensed MFT.
Some insurance companies will reimburse only a portion of your fee; you may still be responsible for a co-pay or for fees in excess of what is allowed by your insurance agreement.
Not all conditions and services are reimbursable; in general, those conditions that are reimbursable require a psychological diagnosis, although not all diagnoses are covered by insurance.
In addition to the above considerations, there are a number of reasons I believe using insurance to pay for therapy may not be in my clients' best interest. The following are some of these reasons:
Your choice to use insurance for therapy may have effects on future coverage or the cost of future coverage, including medical insurance and life insurance. As with most types of insurance, making claims often has the effect of raising future premiums or making you ineligible for certain types of coverage. If your insurance has a lifetime benefit limit, it may also lead to future denials based on you having reached such a limit. Also, psychological diagnoses are a common measure of overall health and projected longevity, and such can raise life insurance premiums for those purchasing life insurance even for the first time or for those who are in otherwise excellent health.
Insurance can limit the scope and type of treatment received in therapy, resulting in treatment that is less tailored to your specific needs and shorter in duration (fewer sessions). Therefore, relying on insurance to pay for treatment may leave you with results that seem incomplete and/or less than satisfactory.
Working with insurance companies and keeping up with necessary compliance requirements takes time and energy that I would prefer to use interacting with and caring for clients and planning interventions to help them reach their goals. I believe that, inevitably, the time and energy used dealing with such hassles means that I will have less energy to care for clients, resulting in less effective treatment.
While therapy is largely confidential, there are legal and ethical exceptions that mandate or allow a therapist to disclose information about your treatment. (See my Informed Consent form and Notice of Privacy Practices for more details.) When a client uses insurance to assist them in paying for therapy, the law allows the insurance company to receive documented information about your therapy sessions for various purposes, including confirming treatment, monitoring interventions, and auditing. If you value your confidentiality, know that using your insurance compromises your privacy in this way.
Instead of hiring insurance companies to be a referral service for my practice, finding other ways to market my services allows me to focus on finding clients whom I believe I can provide an excellent service to, rather than clients who happen to be policy holders of a particular insurance company. When I take on a client, I do so believing that the client will benefit from my specific skills and specialties, not because there is an expectation of the insurance company that I will treat a minimum number of referrals they send my way.
Of course, these reasons may make sense to you, but your financial situation might make it seem like using insurance is the only way for you to be able to afford treatment. If so, consider taking a look at my Sliding Scale and see if your income level might qualify you for a reduced rate. Feel free to contact me to discuss your financial situation; it is very possible that we will be able to come to an agreement regarding payment that will make it possible for us to begin working together on mutually agreeable terms. In the unlikely case we are not able to come to such an agreement, I will be happy to refer you to a local low-cost clinic where you can receive care from a therapist-in-training under qualified supervision.