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How to save on mental health professional services

Whether or not you have insurance coverage, there are many ways to save on mental health professional services. Learn to negotiate with providers and insurance companies and to find alternative sources of services.

Choosing a professional
Psychiatrists are medical doctors and can prescribe medication as can mental health nurse practitioners in most states. Find out about other mental health professionals. When you call a potential mental health care provider, ask the receptionist:

  • Does the mental health professional offer a sliding-scale fee based on income?
  • Does he or she accept your health insurance or Medicaid/Medicare?

Dealing with your insurance company
Know what your insurance company is required to cover. For example, if the plan covers mental health, but it cannot provide an in-network doctor, it may be required to pay for an-out-of-network doctor. If a claim is denied, find out why. Find out more about negotiating with your insurance company.

Stretch your provider dollars
Try to negotiate with your provider for a lower fee. Many doctors and therapists will take your income and expenses into consideration. Spread your visits out to every other week, instead of weekly if you must.

Help through your employer
If your company has an employee assistance program (EAP), find out if it offers counseling services. Usually EAP visits are free, but the number of visits may be limited. Many EAPs provide aid to employees and their families. EAP visits are confidential.

Community-based resources
Community mental health centers (CMHCs) are found in many communities. They offer a range of treatment and counseling services, usually at a reduced rate for low-income people. CMHCs generally require you to have a private insurance plan or to be a recipient of public assistance.

Pastoral Counseling: Your church or synagogue can put you in touch with a pastoral counseling program or find one online.Certified pastoral counselors are ministers with advanced degrees in pastoral counseling, as well as professional counseling experience. Pastoral counseling is often provided on a sliding-scale fee basis.

Self-help groups: Support groups give people a chance to learn about, talk about, and work on their common problems, such as alcoholism, substance abuse, depression and relationships. Self-help groups are generally free and can be found in most communities. Visit NAMI, DBSA or ADAA.

Public assistance programs:
People with severe mental illness may be eligible for public assistance programs that pay for health care, such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. For information about Medicaid, contact your local social service or welfare office. For information about Social Security, Medicare, and disability benefits, call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213.

Social Security has two types of programs to help individuals with disabilities. Social Security Disability Insurance provides benefits for individuals who have worked for a required length of time and have paid Social Security taxes. Supplemental Security Income provides benefits to individuals based on their economic needs.

Medicare is America’s primary Federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older and for some individuals with disabilities who are under 65. It provides basic protection for the cost of health care.

Medicaid pays for some health care costs for America’s poorest and most vulnerable people. Although there are certain Federal requirements, each State also has its own rules and regulations for Medicaid.

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