Why I don’t take health insurance.
This is a super important blog for not only my future clients but all people who are in therapy or may want therapy. There are quite a few cons to using your health insurance when it comes to mental health but I want to stick to the “big” one today.
Once upon a time ago, I was contracted with a mental health agency who took insurance and became enlightened on the real deal behind insurance companies and what it means for you. I think it is absolutely important for consumers to understand the risk of using insurance when you are seeking mental health. Unfortunately, many mental health professionals will not tell you about this dirty little secret.
I would have to diagnose you!
First, do you know when you see a licensed mental health professional and use your insurance (this includes; mental health clinicians, social workers, psychologist, therapist, and psychiatrists ect.), the clinician must diagnose you? It is the only way they can get paid by the insurance companies.
Most people seek help for situational anxiety and/or situational depression, and relationship issues. Let me explain why diagnosing someone with situational issues and even most mental health issues does not rest well with me.
Lets say a man came to see me after his divorced was finalized and he was feeling anxious about his new life and depressed over losing his old life. I am not okay with diagnosing this man with depression or anxiety whatsoever! He should feel this way, he is a human being. If he did not have mixed emotions or feelings about ending a marriage and creating a new life for himself I would be much more concerned. People, there are times in our lives that feelings of anxiety and depression are normal, its not something that has to be forever. But if you use insurance, your diagnosis is in your records forever.
Another example that sits heavy on my mind is when teenagers come to see me. For example, a mother might call me to help her teenage daughter because she is showing signs of anxiety and/or depression because she does not want to go to school and seems to be lacking interest in things she once enjoyed. Now…9 times out of 10 this is what is really going on; self-esteem issues, bullying at school, hormone fluctuations, and the inability to cope with daily life stressors because she has not learned how to yet! I can not in good conscious diagnose a child with a mental health disorder who is naturally going through life transitions.
Why is having a diagnosis for situational issues not okay?
First, a diagnosis can stay permanently on your medical record and looked at as a present or per-existing condition. This can interfere with future health insurance, life insurance, whether you can purchase a gun depending on what state you live in, and/or a job you may apply for.
Not only does insurance require a diagnosis for each session, they also require notes on your session. They want to make you are coming for “medically necessary” reasons. The insurance company has the right to ask for any information to determine the legitimacy of why you are coming to counseling. Once the information is in the hands of your insurance company I cannot protect that information. Therapy works because trust is built and I am very protective over my clients and what they share with me. I choose their privacy.
What if I cant afford to pay privately?
It is quite unfortunate how this system is currently. If you truly cannot afford to privately pay your therapist, try looking for places that have master level interns, they are not allowed to bill under insurance providers. If you just cannot figure out how to private pay and you need the help then by all means get the help you need! It is a personal decision and you have to figure out what is best for you.
Alyssa Warren is a licensed therapist , blogger, and owner of Innovative Direction in Pensacola, FL. Alyssa specializes in divorce, relationship issues, stress, depression, and anxiety. Alyssa offers online and in-office sessions for Florida residents and international clients. Call today to make an appointment 850-583-1342.