Insurance coverage for online mental health

Affordable options for mental health treatment used to be very hard to find. Even though health insurance companies were required to cover mental health conditions starting in 2014, the process of getting treatment still isn’t as easy as it should be.

Scheduling an in-person appointment with someone who takes your insurance could take months, or you may need to call multiple offices before being able to schedule anything at all. Before 2020, most plans also didn’t cover online mental health services, so that option wasn’t as accessible as it is today. 

When the pandemic shut down the world last year, online mental health services like Cerebral stepped up to the plate. According to the CDC, the number of people using online therapy increased by 50% in just the first few months of 2020, compared to 2019.

It’s easy to see why. During isolation, online therapy was a convenient way to access treatment. Studies have also shown that it’s just as effective as in-person care. This is important, since 8 in 10 people started reporting depression and anxiety symptoms after the pandemic started, according to the MHA. 

Now, most health insurance plans include online mental health services, which is great news for you! There are now more affordable options for therapy and medication management than ever.

Fast Facts:

  • Psychiatric and behavioral therapy services are different. Psychiatric treatment can involve prescription medications. Behavioral therapy, like talk therapy, focuses on treating behaviors without medication.

How much does online therapy cost vs. traditional therapy?

Online behavioral therapy sessions are now covered by most health insurance providers. Using your insurance to see an online therapist is less expensive compared to traditional therapy (or even free in some cases). Keep in mind, though, that the type of coverage you can get depends on your specific plan. 

Traditional in-person therapy sessions can cost anywhere from $75-$150, depending on where you live. They can even cost $250 per session in more expensive parts of the country, if not more. Much of the time, traditional therapy isn’t covered by insurance at all.

In contrast, Cerebral partners with insurance companies to provide you with affordable online therapy sessions. Many Cerebral members may be able to use their health insurance to cover all or most of the cost of therapist visits. 

With Cerebral, if you have qualifying in-network insurance, you’ll only pay $29 for any of our plans. Remember, the price of your covered services depends on your copays or deductibles you have with your insurance plan. Please check your insurance plan for details!

Does insurance cover online psychiatry?

Today, many health insurance plans cover online psychiatry services in response to demand from the pandemic. This means using insurance to pay for online medication management is not only convenient, but cost-effective as well. 

Here at Cerebral, we provide you with affordable options for online psychiatry services by partnering with insurance companies to help cover costs. If you’re a Cerebral member, you may be able to use your health insurance to pay for medications and prescriber visits.

The price of your covered services depends on any copays or deductibles you have with your insurance plan. So check your insurance plan for details!

Can I talk to a mental health professional online for free?

Talking to a mental health professional online is easier than ever. With Cerebral, you can take a free emotional assessment to discover what your needs are and get in touch with a mental health professional quickly.

If you’re an employee, there are various Employer Assistance Programs that can help you get access to free therapy sessions with online platforms. Certain health insurance coverage includes mental health benefits that can put you in touch with a professional for little to no cost to you. If you’re interested in getting mental health benefits at your company, speak with your HR or benefit manager. 

How much do insurance companies pay for online mental health counseling?

While most insurance companies cover online mental health counseling, the type of mental health insurance you have depends on the insurance plan you have. There are plans that will completely cover your sessions, others that will only cover medically necessary sessions, and some that don’t cover sessions at all.

Reach out to your insurance company to check what coverage you have and what your options are.

At Cerebral, any of our plans can cost as little as $29 with qualifying in-network insurance. We also offer easy reimbursement options, so with a qualifying plan, you could get the cost of your subscription fee covered by your insurance.

What do I do if I can't afford behavioral therapy?

You might think that you’re unable to afford therapy, but online mental health platforms are making it more affordable than ever to see a therapist. This study has shown that people who see online therapists save a lot of money and still get treatment that’s as effective as in-person therapy.

You can also save money by exclusively looking for therapists who are in-network or offer reimbursement or sliding-scale payments. But your options may be limited or hard to find in these cases.

With Cerebral, you have access to a wide network of experienced therapists who are qualified to treat your needs for one affordable price per month. Our membership plans cover regular therapy sessions and medication delivery (if prescribed) in the price of your subscription. 

These plans can be made even more affordable with insurance coverage or reimbursement options.

Why is online care cheaper?

With online mental health care, you don’t have to pay for overhead costs like office space when you see your clinician. With Cerebral, you get more value for your money since you can chat with your care team anytime.

Additionally, traditional behavioral therapists are usually only available during your session hours. But with Cerebral, you can send a direct message to your care team anytime.

You should also consider how much money you’ll save on gas or public transport since you don’t have to commute to your psychiatry or therapy appointments. There are also savings in child care costs or time off from work that you might have to take to see someone in-person.

What if I don’t get along with my online therapist?

Finding the right therapist takes time. You’ll speak with your behavioral therapist frequently about personal matters, so you want to find the right one. You might need to go through a few different therapists before you find one that you connect with best.

If you don’t click with your online therapist right away, that’s fine! Online therapy makes it easy for you to find and schedule appointments with other qualified therapists that may be a better fit for you. 

With in-person therapy, you would have to start your research over again, schedule an appointment, and then travel to that appointment. That means that you’re investing a lot more time and energy into the whole process.

Online therapy takes that pressure off of you and allows you to find the right therapist from the comfort of your own home.

Does Cerebral offer mental health care without insurance?

Yes! Cerebral is affordable with or without insurance. Cerebral offers plans for people who are looking for a convenient way to get therapy and start getting mental health treatment.

In fact, the subscription fee for a Cerebral membership without health insurance could cost less than your copay for a traditional therapist.

If you’re interested in becoming a Cerebral member, take a free emotional assessment today to see which plan is right for you!

For more information on online mental health services and affordable treatment, check out our free resources here:

Medically reviewed by: David Mou, MD, MBA

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Expert Tips

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  • If you are in emotional distress, here are some resources for immediate help:

  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline:
    Call 1-800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line:
    Text Home to 741-741
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