Are you wondering about using your health insurance to cover counseling? Due to recent political changes, many people now have health coverage and would like to take advantage of that. We all pay premiums for health insurance and want to get a return on our investment.

It is important to be an informed consumer, look into all your options and make the best decision for you and your family. Before deciding to use your health insurance for counseling, there are a number of factors to consider

Insurance companies require a mental health diagnosis to cover treatment. They only pay for services that are medically necessary. This is easily accomplished with physical health, but it means that a counselor diagnose you with a mental health disorder and prove that it is impacting your day to day life. Many of life’s problems are not mental health disorders, and many relationship and marital conflicts do not have a medical or mental health foundation. There are “lighter” diagnoses, but nonetheless, would you want a diagnosis that you may not have and may not need? Furthermore, once a diagnosis is in your record it stays with you, and can impact you later on in life.

A diagnosis is one part of a person, a snapshot in time, and not inclusive of every part of yourself. With a diagnosis you lose control of your information, how it is interpreted and why. Strangers now are in the position to make decisions on your health without actually knowing you. A diagnosis is a code with meaning attached and communicates nothing about who you are, how you cope, the support systems you have in place, your life’s story and your personal history.

A diagnosis means loss of confidentiality, which equates to loss of control over personal information.

Any diagnosis becomes part of your permanent medical record, which can be released to anyone with authorization. It could mean a future denial of coverage, or increased premiums based on a pre-existing condition or just previous treatment.

Additionally, insurance companies require treatment plans, updates on therapy, progress reports and other personal information to determine what, or if, treatment is covered.

Insurance coverage does not always equate to being able to use your coverage.

While insurance works great for physical, medical conditions, with mental health treatment the process can vary greatly. Insurance companies may only approve a certain number of sessions, based on their understanding of a diagnosis. Reimbursement can take a long time, which can interrupt the treatment process. Treatment should be between you and your therapist, without the decision being made by an uninformed third party.

If you are considering using insurance, the best policy is to contact them ahead of time, before treatment begins. Ask them what information you will need to provide, what services are covered, how many sessions are covered, what they will reimburse and if you can see a therapist of your choice. Ask them if you can be pre-approved for therapy before it begins so that you can ensure a continuous process.

Although I do not take insurance, I can provide you with statements, invoices and receipts that most insurance companies require. If you are denied coverage, I will fill out whatever forms are required by the provider to complete coverage. However, since I am not in network with your provider I am unable to communicate for you, but am willing to give you what you need to submit. Other options are using your HSA or FSA accounts, and I accept cards with major credit card logos.