Online addiction counseling and therapy have virtually exploded in popularity since the COVID-19 pandemic began. While the pandemic, unfortunately, created its own mental health crisis, it also highlighted the growing need for more accessible mental health and substance abuse care. Even though in-person therapy has resumed, it seems that virtual therapy is here to stay.
There has been a sharp increase in the number of apps and online health platforms offering some form of therapy. The services provided range from standard counseling to receiving prescriptions from licensed psychiatrists.
Some prominent online therapy providers include:
- Teen Counseling
- ReGain Counseling
Fortunately, insurance companies have responded and expanded their coverage to include most of these apps and platforms. Many of the most popular online mental health services forums are covered partially or entirely by major insurance companies.
Why Should I Try Online Therapy?
Online therapy has both pros and cons, but one of the main pros is that it’s made therapy significantly more accessible to people with tight schedules, people with disabilities, and people in more rural areas. Some other benefits include:
- you can attend therapy at home, school, or even at work
- no need to deal with transportation
- limited or no wait times for appointments
- lower costs than traditional therapy
- therapists are available at all times of the day
How to Find Out if You’re Covered
The first step is to check out the online therapy platform of your choosing and see if they have a link discussing insurance. Some major platforms, like BetterHelp, do not accept any insurance and function entirely on a subscription model. You can, however, try getting reimbursed by your insurance for using this service. Other online therapy providers like Talkspace do accept most major insurances. Some employers even provide this as a benefit.
If you’re seeking virtual therapy through a local therapist’s office, the easiest way to find out if your insurance will cover sessions is to call them and ask. They can also give you pricing ranges for consultations and regular sessions with counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists.
Once you have an idea of which therapist or platform you may be interested in, it’s a good idea to contact your insurance provider directly. You can use this opportunity to find out if you have benefits or coverage for online therapy and whether you can expect any copays, deductibles, or other out-of-pocket costs. Your insurance provider can also tell you if there are any specific therapists that are in-network to help you avoid out-of-network fees.
Here are some of the major health insurance providers that cover online therapy:
- Aetna currently covers telehealth for mental health problems
- Blue Cross Blue Shield, or Anthem, covers video telehealth sessions
- Cigna plans vary, but most cover virtual health visits for mental illnesses
- Humana covers most or all of online therapy costs
- Tricare fully covers all virtual mental health services
- United Healthcare is currently covering online therapy at the same rates as in-person therapy, though this may end soon
If you have Medicaid or Medicare, you’re in luck — almost every state has expanded their coverage to include online therapy. There are a few who still may not cover certain services though, so call the number on your insurance card to verify coverage before scheduling an appointment.
The Next Step
Starting therapy can feel intimidating, so breaking it down into a step-by-step process can be helpful. Getting your insurance sorted out and choosing a therapist is half the battle. Once that’s over, you can focus on what truly matters: achieving your mental health goals and getting on track to a healthier, happier life.