The idea of seeing a therapist online might have seemed strange before 2020. But today, online therapy platforms are increasingly being used to help therapists address a spike in mental health care needs. What’s more, a number of online therapy platforms accept insurance, although people should check their coverage with their provider before signing up.
According to the American Psychological Association, psychologists saw 84% more patients with anxiety disorders and 72% more patients with depressive disorders in October 2021 than before the pandemic — with most psychologists treating patients virtually.
But – let’s face it – therapy, even online, can be expensive. Even though there are a variety of online therapy platforms to help address this need, none of them will be of any use if you can’t afford to pay for them.
What is online therapy?
Online therapy is a remote mental health service that takes place via video or phone calls, texting, or live chat. Companies typically connect a person with a therapist when they sign up for the service.
Online therapy is an especially popular option nowadays. It allows people to have sessions with fully licensed therapists using smartphone apps or their computers instead of going to an office. It is available from large platforms that specialize in online services, such as Talkspace or BetterHelp, and from individual therapy practices.
For people who have been considering therapy but are intimidated or overwhelmed by the thought of office visits or in-person care, online therapy might be the best way to get care.
Online therapy may be less expensive than traditional, in-person therapy. However, it is always important to check whether a company takes insurance and to contact the insurance provider to ensure that it will cover the therapy a person requires.
Do online therapy services take insurance?
Not all online platforms take insurance, but most do. Many therapists who offer online sessions also take insurance.
As a rule, if you have insurance, you can likely find an online therapy service that will take your plan. However, the exact coverage for online therapy available to you depends on:
- your insurance plan
- the therapist you choose
- state regulations where you live
Top online therapy platforms with insurance
Teladoc is a leader in the telehealth space, offering a variety of services, including primary and pediatric care, dermatology, nutrition, sexual health and mental health services. The company offers appointments with the top 5% of medical professionals in the world and has a 90% satisfaction rate, according to its website.
All health care and mental health providers on the platform are board-certified or licensed, and users are matched with providers licensed to practice in the state in which the patient resides.
Teladoc Therapy offers virtual appointments with therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists seven days a week. Users can set up an account and easily find treatment for a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression and PTSD. Couples therapy and anger management classes are also available.
For those people looking for psychiatric services, Teladoc Therapy offers medication management as well.
- You choose your provider(s) and continue to see the same therapist
- Also offers virtual medical care
- Simple scheduling system
- Appointments available 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. (EST) seven days a week
- Accepts 60 insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid
- Can participate in video appointments via app or website
- Medication management available
- Relatively affordable out-of-pocket session fee
- No subscription plans
- Cannot see if your specific insurance plan is accepted before sign-up
- Cannot see therapist bios before sign-up
- Same-day or next-day appointments may not be available
- Therapists may be overbooked
Brightside only offers video therapy sessions. If you choose a plan that includes therapy, you will have 45-minute sessions every week. Every Brightside therapist uses a CBT approach to therapy, which has been demonstrated as an effective treatment for issues like depression, anxiety, substance use, and eating disorders, according to the American Psychological Association.
You can schedule your therapy appointments at times that work for both you and your therapist, and you can contact them at any time between appointments through the unlimited messaging feature.
If you use insurance to pay for your Brightside membership, your exact cost will depend on your individual plan. To confirm the exact amounts you’ll be expected to pay, you should contact your insurance provider to confirm your benefits or use the Brightside insurance checker online.
If you don’t use health insurance, Brightside costs between $95 and $349 per month, depending on the plan. You can pay with Visa and Mastercard credit cards or FSA or HSA dollars. Brightside will charge you monthly from the date you activate your plan. Here are the three Brightside plan options:
- Costs $299 per month without insurance
- Includes four 45-minute therapy sessions per month and unlimited messaging to your therapist
- Includes access to 10 self-care videos
- Costs $95 per month without insurance
- Meet with a provider for a comprehensive evaluation to determine if medication is right for you
- Includes unlimited messaging with your psychiatric provider
- Psychiatry sessions are 30 minutes long
Therapy and Psychiatry
- Costs $349 per month without insurance
- Includes all of the benefits of the therapy and medication plans
- In-network with Aetna, Cigna, UnitedHealthcare, and certain regional plans
- Therapy and psychiatry available in every state
- Uses a unique technology called PrecisionRX that recommends the most effective medication for your symptoms
- All plans include unlimited messaging with your provider
- Therapy sessions are 45 minutes long
- Has an app for iOS phones
- Ability to switch therapists is not guaranteed
- Only offers video therapy
- Does not have an app for Android phones
- Psychiatry sessions are only 30 minutes long
Talkiatry is an online psychiatry platform that helps adolescents and adults find a psychiatrist for virtual visits and offers insurance. It connects people with licensed psychiatrists in their home state to help them get the mental health treatment that best suits their needs.
To schedule an appointment, you can go to the company’s website, Talkiatry.com, and hit the “get started” button. From there, you’ll get a more thorough explanation of what Talkiatry is and what it isn’t—it’s not a talk therapy platform, for example—but psychiatrists can work with you to help you better understand your symptoms, create a treatment plan, prescribe medication and work with you on medication management.
You’ll then do a quick assessment so Talkiatry can match you with a psychiatrist that fits your needs, and from there you’ll fill out insurance information and set up an appointment. It’s worth noting that the Talkiatry website isn’t the only way to book an appointment: you can book through the medical booking platform Zocdoc, and they can verify that your insurance was accepted by Talkiatry.
After setting up an appointment, you’ll be matched with a psychiatrist. In your first session, you’ll go over your symptoms with your doctor, who will work with you to come up with a treatment plan, which may include medication. From there, you’ll check in with your clinician about every four weeks or so, but you can see them more or less frequently depending on your individual situation.
You can also message them in between visits via Healow, an app used by many medical providers to communicate with their patients.
- Accepts most major insurers
- Can see if your insurance is accepted before registering
- Can treat children as young as age 5
- Can prescribe controlled substances
- Easy to change providers
- Appointments longer than at most other services
- Not available in AK, DE, HI, ID, NM, ND, SD, or WY
- Medications sent to local pharmacy rather than delivered to your home
- Service not available without insurance
- May wait a week or more for an appointment, depending on your location and preferences
MDLive is a comprehensive online medical platform that connects users with both mental health care professionals and nonemergency medical care via telehealth for issues like migraines, pinkeyes, and sinus infections. The platform also has psychiatrists on its platform, meaning users can get a prescription if advised as part of a treatment plan.
MDLive offers sessions by both phone and live video chat. This includes counseling and medication services. It charges $108 for a counseling session. For medication management, it charges $284 for the first visit with a psychiatrist and $108 for follow-up appointments. Insurance will lower the cost of therapy, but specific pricing depends on your insurance.
MDLive accepts most insurance plans, including Cigna, Humana, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Aetna. MDLive accepts some Medicare and Medicaid plans, and coverage varies by state. To find out whether it accepts your insurance, you can register for a free account and input your insurance information.
MDLive is the best option for finding specialized mental health support that accepts insurance.
- Ability to choose your own therapist
- Can provide medication management
- Wide range of services offered
- Primarily for medication management
- No monthly subscription plans
- Email and text options not available
Talkspace is an online therapy website and app that connects you to licensed therapists based on their expertise. Licensed therapists from across the country offer support for individuals, couples and teens, covering a range of mental health needs, including depression, anxiety and stress, parenting, trauma and grief, substance abuse, LGBTQIA+ specific topics, eating disorders and more.
The Talkspace algorithm matches you with a provider based on your needs and preferences, as well as therapist availability. After matching with a provider, you can view information about their professional experience, what types of therapy they specialize in and more.
Depending on your plan, you’ll have access to asynchronous messaging with your therapist including video, text and audio messages, as well as live sessions (if you opt for a plan that includes them). If you’d like to try a different provider at any point, you’re able to do so, but if you’re satisfied with your therapist, you may continue to work with them exclusively.
The provider you work with will be from your state of residence and all communication between you and your provider in your therapy chat room will be private and fully encrypted, according to the company.
- Covers 40 million Americans via insurance
- Messaging-only plan available
- Specialized LGBTQIA and veterans treatment available
- Multiple plans to choose from
- Can check insurance coverage before signing up
- Budget-priced therapy, even without insurance
- Easy to switch therapists
- Available nationwide
- Doesn’t accept Medicare or Medicaid
- Can only choose therapist when using app to sign up
- Shorter therapy sessions than many other services
- Messages from therapists may feel impersonal
- Exact pricing not clear until during sign-up
- Psychiatric services not included in any therapy bundles
LiveHealth Online provides online therapy with insurance via live video sessions with a licensed therapist or a psychiatrist. You can sign up on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Once registered, you’ll be able to choose from a list of therapists and doctors who are licensed in your state and schedule an appointment. It’s free to sign up, and there are no monthly subscription fees.
Without insurance, an initial video session with a LiveHealth Online psychiatrist is $175, with follow-up visits costing $75 each. Video sessions with online therapists are $80 each, and video sessions with online psychologists are $95 each. Insurance will lower the cost of therapy, but specific pricing depends on your insurance.
LiveHealth Online’s video sessions are covered by several insurance plans. These include Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Empire Blue Cross, and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield health plans. Other plans may cover some of the cost but aren’t considered in-network, according to LiveHealth Online. This will make them more expensive.
LiveHealth accepts some Medicare and Medicaid plans. Coverage may vary by state. You can confirm your coverage while signing up on the LiveHealth website. You can check if your insurance plan is in-network and how much you would pay for a visit on the pricing page.
- Offers therapy for children between age 10 and 17
- Can provide medication management
- Medication management offered for adults only
- No monthly plans offered
- Email and text options not available
How to find out if online therapy takes insurance
The best way to find out if online therapy takes a person’s insurance is to visit the telehealth service’s website. Many services have pages dedicated to insurance questions. A good place to check is a company’s frequently asked questions page. However, many companies do not list all the insurance companies they accept.
If a telehealth service does not list a person’s insurance, it is always worth contacting the insurance company directly to check whether it will cover all or part of the cost of using a service. Insurance companies may also be able to provide information about in-network therapists, psychologists, or psychiatrists that people can contact directly.
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