Mental Health Moment: Insurance and Mental Health Coverage

insurance mental health moment May 02, 2022

Chanté Meadows discusses insurance and mental health coverage. Please do not let insurance be a barrier to seeking mental health treatment services.


All right, we're gonna try this again, my live feed lost. I have no idea. So if you were joining me, I'm sorry, we lost that feed. But we're going to try this again. Once again, this Chante Meadows, owner and founder of Meadows Counseling Group located here in Columbus, Ohio, but able to provide services all over Ohio because of telehealth. So today is Monday, May 2 and May is Mental Health Awareness Month. And I want to come on every Monday to give you little tidbits about something related to mental health, mental health awareness, just increasing the conversation.

So today, we're actually going to start our conversation around insurance. And I just want to provide just a little bit of information because what I have found is one of the reasons that people have struggled with connecting with a therapist or finding is somehow related to insurance. And so I just kind of wanted to come on and talk a little bit about the process of finding a therapist, a mental health clinician, a counselor, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, however you choose whatever terminology in the different services, but I have found, being the owner of a private practice that insurance has become a big barrier for people not being able to access services. So I just want to come on and provide just a little bit of information about insurance.

So let's talk about so when you are going to look for mental health services such as therapy, some people you'll hear refer to the term as behavioral health. And sometimes you'll hear the term mental health. Behavioral Health is often referred to often with children. So it's a behavioral health. And that's where you think, but honestly, it's the same coverage is your behavioral health coverage and your mental health coverage.

One of the most important things I would start off by saying is, if you are starting a new job, or you're entering into your open enrollment, please, please, please pay attention to your insurance. A lot of people don't always pay attention to their insurance and they pick the cheapest one. And what happens is you end up in some kind of mental health crisis or kid ends up in a mental health crisis. And you need to be able to access mental health coverage. But you didn't realize you had a high deductible. Because certain services such as your yearly services, a lot of that is preventative care. And preventative care does not always chip away at your deductible. So the first time you go to therapy, you're like, oh, okay, there, it's going to cost me out of pocket. It's going to cost me if that session is $150. Or if that session is $100. How much ever when you haven't met your deductible? You're basically paying out of pocket until you have met your deductible. Why does that matter on the front end? Is because when you pick your insurance, pay attention to the insurance you pick, and does it have a deductible? Is it coinsurance? Does it have an F is F A? S A FHA health spending account? What are your options, because that will let you know what your mental health coverages make sure your coverage is make sure mental health is covered. There are certain companies who you have are certain jobs, I should say. You could work for the state and potentially have something like an example you could have Aetna for your insurance and your medical insurance, but you could potentially have like United Health Care for your mental health. So when you first sign up, my first piece of advice is when you first sign up for your insurance. Look at all of your insurance, pay attention to deductible, copay, fac FHA HSA. What are your options? Make sure you're also paying attention to what are your out of state? Why does that matter is because if you have a kiddo possibly going to college, or that'd be out of town, or out of the country, what is it? I work a lot with Ohio State students and one of the things that happens is parents are trying to facilitate getting their child some kind of therapy because a situation happens when they're in college. Very often college age, a mental health crisis is likely we know that mental health, it can happen right? Very young, but 18 to 21 when they're in college is most likely where some of the more symptoms become prominent, more aware. So pay attention to your mental health coverage when you first sign up for it. So open enrollment, when you get a new job. Please look at all of your insurance when you are doing that.

Okay. So what happens is when you contact a mental health professional, one of the first questions off the cuff, unfortunately we have to ask is, what is your insurance? Why because the service has to be figured out of who's I want to get housing paid for. So when we ask what your insurance is, please make sure you provide us all of your information. If you have more than one insurance, that is information that the provider very much also needs to know. Because when you have more than one insurance, there is someone who is your primary, and someone who is your secondary. And what happens for us as providers is sometimes your primary will, your secondary will be like, Oh, I'm not playing paying until the primary pays. And the primaries like why didn't even know they have a secondary. So we can literally have insurances fighting back and forth. So please make sure when you are starting any service, such as mental health, that you let them know if you have more than one insurance, okay. And that will help them figure out we don't get to decide which one you don't get to decide which one. One is your primary, and one is your secondary, and insurance will make you cover your primary.

Now, if you have a deductible on your primary, but don't have one on your secondary, I'm sorry, more often than not, your insurance is still going to make that primary cover. So you're going to have to meet deductible. So what is the deductible mean? Deductible oftentimes means that you have a certain out of pocket costs that you have to meet until your insurance will pick that up, which means you're probably going to have to work with your therapist or your provider, your counselor on getting that service. So what I would encourage you is ask them, what are your options for, I would encourage you to still do therapy, even if you have a deductible. That may mean you don't get to do weekly therapy. Because you have a high out of pocket cost, there's a lot of money, you're gonna have to pay out of pocket.

That does not mean don't go to therapy that just made me Hey, ask your therapist, hey, can we do every other week can we do once a month, that may mean if you have a credit card, instead of buying some shoes, and other things that you want, that may mean you need to put your mental health therapy sessions on that credit card, so that you can do weekly, it is one of those things unfortunately, us as mental health providers, we have to build insurance. So that is why it's important for you to know, there is important to know like what type of coverage you have. And like I said, I have found over time that insurance has started to become the biggest barrier of why people aren't seeking out services. Because they don't want to have to deal with figuring out their insurance more often than not places will help you figure out your insurance, you just have to make sure you provide us all of the information. When we're asking, we're usually asking for date of birth address, all those who was who was the carrier of the insurance. And we need all of that information to be able to contact your insurance to let you know what your mental health coverage is. More often than not, it's just like you go to the doctor, if you have a copay, we're gonna have to collect that copay during that session. But what helps is if you know your coverage, also. So that way, when we are telling you something, if something doesn't match, we can call and figure out what your insurance coverages together during COVID, a lot of things have happened with insurance coverage, where at certain times companies were covering, and then they stopped covering, the rates are all over the place. There's always constant changes around insurance and mental health.

So you always want to make sure you have looked at your actual coverage to know and look for changes in your coverage when you get a new card, Did something change if you if your company changes, who is the provider Did something change, because that can affect your mental health ability of how many times you can see more often not these days, a lot of people have removed the limit to say like, oh, you can only see 30 We don't see that as much anymore. But what we're seeing more right now in the field are these high deductibles, which often puts a lot of pressure because if people are already struggling financially, they're like how I'm going to do therapy? Well, I still I highly encourage you still see the therapist, you just may have to cut back the number of sessions you're seeing. If you have a credit card that you write, you may have been wanting to go on a shopping spree, y'all we find money where we can't, therapy is just as important. So that may mean putting some of those costs onto putting some of those costs onto a card.

The other options are finding places that are private pay, finding somewhere who has a sliding fee scale, those are harder to come by Sliding Fee Scales are harder to come by. But sometimes you can find a provider that has a sliding fee scale. The other option is there are providers such as myself that are at metals counseling, we actually have a training program, which are masters level clinicians such as just like myself, and they're being trained. So it's like when you go to the doctor, and sometimes the doctor comes in with the resident who's also learning to be a doctor. Well, there are training trainees all over Ohio who are also learning to become therapists. That's an option our training our trainees are out of pocket costs of usually between 45 and $50 a session. So you're not paying as much as you would to see a already licensed clinician. They're highly supervised. So they're getting supervision. They're getting training, they're getting education. So they are great therapists. And that's sometimes an option. There are sometimes ways that you can apply for funding, you can talk to your insurance provider and ask them what options talk to your employer about what are your options, if you're trying to find that therapist.

One way to find a therapist, you want to make sure someone is in network. If you want to know if they're in network, you can call your provider and ask for a list of who's in network. Or when you go on to websites, you can look and ask them what insurances they take. I wanted to start this Monday, mental health moment with insurance. Because I have very much recognize over the last two years with all things that have happened. Insurance is one of the things people are always like trying to say I can't get in because one of the bears being their insurance. So I want to talk give grace to a lot of us a lot of this is we are not in control of it. It is controlled by insurance companies. And also for a lot of private practices. This is our bread and butter. So it is important that we do collect those co pays, it is important that we collect those deductibles. Because that is how often we survive also. So please be graceful and kind to all the clinicians out there. When they tell you make sure you're paying it, you know you owe something, make sure you're always paying on it. So you're not getting accruing a balance. So you don't have costs growing around mental health. Note that there are psychiatrists and psychiatrist as often who you see for medication. There are those that accept insurance. But there are also a lot who don't accept insurance or only private pay as well. So that is option.

Also, if you're looking for a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner, those who are the ones who prescribe the medication. Sometimes their out of pocket costs. The biggest thing is I don't want insurance become a barrier for you not to receive services may is about mental health awareness. And a part of my goal is to make sure if people are wanting services to really help figure out how to help you seek it, do not let insurance be a barrier of the reason that you're not work with your insurance work with your employer, find out what are your options. And at the end of the day, if you have a credit card, put it on your credit card, you just may not be able to go as frequently or you're out. There's also services out there who are private pay that hopefully you can find that reduce fees. But my biggest point is do not let insurance be a barrier for you seeking services. If you know me personally, and you need me to help you facilitate it, I will help you figure out your insurance to help you figure out where you should go.

Now understand if you have Medicare or Medicaid, more often than not, you have to find out if your mental health therapist accepts that. So or you could have community health, pay attention to your insurance card, please pay attention. So a lot of these things Medicaid and community health are privatized. So you may have a card that says United Healthcare, but underneath United Healthcare, it could say Medicare or underneath United Healthcare, it could say Community Health, that is not private insurance. So be mindful of that, that that's not private insurance. So you want to make sure that you are looking when you tell your provider when you tell your therapist, what insurance you want to say I have Medicare or I have community. That's Obamacare is community as a community health. So if it says something else, that's not just united, that is not just United Healthcare, that is like Obamacare, underwritten with United Healthcare, and that coverage does look different. If it's Medicaid or Medicare, you may have to end up in a community mental health agency and community mental health agencies are more often the ones who accept more Medicare and Medicaid. You there are providers, private practice providers who accept it, you just have to do a little bit more research on finding providers, but there are providers who private practice providers who accept Medicare and Medicaid.

Once again, Medicaid is privatized. So you can't just say Medicaid. It could be care source, it could be Molina, it could be united healthcare. So you want to make sure you say I have Medicaid, I have Medicare and then you can also let them know the type is it Molina is a care source is it Who is it paramount? Who is it that you have and the provider is a in the therapist is able to help you find your coverage and they may or may not be on that insurance panel. The goal of this is not to be long, but just to provide you information to hopefully help connect you to mental health services if that's what you need.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I always encourage all my family and friends and anyone who views my videos. Please do not suffer in silence. If you know me, I will gladly connect you to where you need to be connected. Let's talk about mental health. Let's get healthy. Unfortunately, on today, May 2, it came out that Naomi just passed away due to taking her life. And I want to make sure that we are not losing people and people do not have to suffer in silence. I know she was very vocal about her depression. And and she has also been very vocal about her love for the Lord. So we all know those who are believers. We will see her another day. But let's keep talking about mental health. Let's stop this stigma. All right, y'all. If you have questions, you can always comment on this video later. And let me know if you need something a Devonte. If you all need something, I will try and connect you.

I will see you next Monday for your Monday mental health moment. I don't know what next Monday's topic will be about. If you have some ideas, feel free to send me an email, text or message. And everyone have a great day. Take care of yourself. Love on yourself. And let's take care of our mental health together. All right, y'all have a great week.


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