Make the Best Choice for Your Mental Health Plan

Significant changes have occurred in the health insurance industry that may affect your access to quality mental health care. More employers are contracting with “managed care” plans to monitor delivery of mental health care.

Managed care companies act as gatekeepers between you and your insurance benefits, in an effort to contain costs and increase profits. Managed care companies limit benefits and dictate treatment terms. This may directly affect the quality of care you receive.

These changes can be confusing to you, the consumer, as you try to understand which insurance plan will best meet your needs. This page is designed to provide information to consider when investigating your options.

You may have questions to discuss with your benefits manager, your insurance company’s representative or your psychotherapist.

If you are uncomfortable with an insurer’s policies regarding choice of therapist, length or type of care, or confidentiality, you may want to know what other options you have.

You Do Have A Choice.

When You Make The Choice:

You have freedom of choice in selecting a psychotherapist who best fits your needs.

You and your therapist agree on the fee.

You decide with your therapist the length of your treatment.

You and your therapist decide what type of treatment will best meet your needs.

Your right to privacy is safeguarded. Confidentiality is protected within the limits of state law.

When Your Managed Care Plan Makes The Choice:

Your choice of psychotherapist may be limited to a short list of persons who have a contract with the company.

Your managed care insurance plan sets the fee.

The plan decides if treatment is covered, and if so, how many¬†sessions it will pay for, based on a reviewer’s judgment of need.

Type of treatment will be dictated by the plan. You may be limited to brief therapy or crisis intervention. Use of medication may be required or offered as the only treatment.

Reports are required. Records are the property of the managed care company. Managed care employees will have access to clinical information that would otherwise remain between client and therapist.

What Can You Do?

Before selecting an insurance plan, find out what mental health benefits are provided with each option available to you. Get your questions answered before you sign up.

Discuss with your psychotherapist exactly what information your insurer requires. Assess any possible impact if this information becomes accessible to others. If paying for therapy privately is too difficult for you, discuss with your therapist the possibility of flexible fees or payment schedule.

Talk to the human resources department of your workplace. Tell them your concerns and preferences.

Write or call your state and national legislators about your concerns and opinions.