Price is what you pay. Value is what you get. – Warren Buffett
Now that we have a clearer understanding of who does what, let’s go over some more practical information about selecting the professional you will work with. After determining which professional’s skill set meets your needs, the next thing most of us consider is the cost. Assuming you have some type of insurance you will generally have two options: use insurance (a co-pay or limited number of sessions may be involved) or you can pay out of pocket. This is often referred to as private pay. Below is a quick run down of the pros/cons of each method:
Paying out of pocket
1. You can see the professional of your choosing.
2. You can continue to go for as long as you feel it is helpful.
3. Your information is completely confidential (your employer will not know about your treatment and nothing will be placed in your insurance/medical file).
4. You can see a professional for any reason, no insurance company approval required.
5. You are in complete control of your therapy with no third party involved.
1. It is more expensive.
2. You will have to do some research to find a counselor instead of picking from the insurance company list.
1. You will save money.
2. You don’t have to search for a counselor as the insurance company will provide you a list to choose from.
1. Your information (including the diagnosis) will be on record with the insurance company. This does not make it public record, but it is much more readily accessible than if you had gone the private pay route.
2. The insurance company will decide whether or not your concerns warrant professional help.
3. If they do cover it you may be limited to a certain number of sessions. . . whether you are better or not when your sessions run out, you’re done.
4. Many policies do not cover certain things such as couples counseling.
5. Insurance usually requires a specific covered diagnosis. This means the counselor might officially diagnose you with something you don’t actually have in order to get the insurance company to cover your sessions. This diagnosis will then be a permanent part of your medical records.
6. It has been my experience that counselors who do accept insurance often see many more clients in a given week than their private pay only colleagues. This makes sense because they are paid about half as much per session so they have to put in twice the hours to earn the same money. It is possible that this difference could effect the quality of service.
Depending on your needs and financial situation it is certainly possible that using insurance to pay for counseling will work just fine. However, while money doesn’t solve all problems it does give you more options. If you can swing it the benefits of paying out of pocket might be worth the sacrifice.
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