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BetterHelp is a subscription service that provides users with access to online counseling. Also called teletherapy, online counseling can help you put your mental health first from the comfort and privacy of your home.
You can talk with a psychologist, clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, or licensed professional counselor. You can schedule online counseling sessions around your workday, family obligations, and social life.
BetterHelp counselors have experience treating a range of issues, including anxiety, depression, and relationship challenges, among others.
BetterHelp isn’t covered by insurance and does not charge per session. This online counseling service offers a flexible monthly package that covers several sessions and ways to talk with your counselor (chat, video, phone). This is important because multiple counseling sessions are needed to help improve mental health. Pricing ranges from $60 to $90 a week.
Keep reading to learn more about BetterHelp, and how you can access counseling and other mental health services with or without insurance.
BetterHelp operates on a subscription model. This means your fee covers multiple sessions and other communication with your counselor.
The fee ranges from $60 to $90 per week and is billed monthly. You’ll be charged between $240 and $320 per month, payable via a credit card or PayPal.
BetterHelp offers the option of changing counselors for any reason or canceling your subscription at any time.
The subscription includes:
- unlimited text messaging with your counselor
- unlimited audio messaging with your counselor
- one live weekly video session with your counselor
BetterHelp financial aid
BetterHelp offers flexible pricing plans that are comparable with the copays of most insurance plans, but they may not be affordable for everyone.
Financial aid is available. BetterHelp will ask you to fill out a short survey about your employment status and monthly income to check your eligibility. You may have to submit your income tax return or other documentation to show your financial status. To find out more information, it’s best to directly call billing/customer service.
If you have health insurance, there’s a good chance your policy covers at least some mental health services.
While BetterHelp does not accept health insurance, you may be able to get reimbursed by your insurance company in some cases.
It’s also worth noting that even if your insurance plan covers all your online therapy costs, your copay cost may be higher than BetterHelp’s entire fee.
Keep in mind there are vast differences in benefits insurers provide. You’ll need to review your plan carefully to understand both what is covered and what you’ll have to pay out of pocket.
It’s possible you will likely need to contribute out of pocket toward the copay for each session, but be sure to check with your insurance plan before moving forward with counseling.
How to check your insurance plan for mental health coverage
To find out what your plan covers, you can:
- log in to your online account
- call your insurance provider
- check with your company’s human resources department
- ask the healthcare professional you want to work with if your insurance is in their network
In some cases, you’ll need to obtain preauthorization to obtain coverage. Other insurers require you to pay a deductible before they pay any claims. Deductibles can be quite high, so be sure to ask your insurer.
How do deductibles work and how much do I have to pay out of pocket?
When you choose a health insurance plan, it’s important to look at your total healthcare costs. This means that you will need to consider how much you pay for your health insurance every month as well as your deductible, copayments, and out-of-pocket costs.
A deductible is how much you have to spend for health services that are covered by your insurance before your insurance company pays for anything.
In some types of plans, you might have a low monthly health insurance cost or premium each month, but a high deductible. This means you have to spend more on healthcare that qualifies for insurance payments before being covered by your plan.
In other cases, your monthly insurance premium may be higher but your deductible is lower. This means you have to spend less on healthcare per year before your insurance coverage kicks in.
How much you have to pay out of pocket depends on your plan. Talk with your employer or insurance provider to find the right health plan for you.
How to find a counselor covered by your insurance
Once you know what your plan covers, it’s time to find a therapist. To find a therapist, check out one or more of the following resources:
- your insurance plan’s list of providers
- referrals from healthcare professionals, family, and friends
- trustworthy online databases, such as the American Psychological Association’s Psychologist Locator or the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy’s Therapist Locator
- local options, including community mental health or behavioral health clinics, and other organizations such as colleges, advocacy groups, religious groups, and nonprofits
- Psych Central’s Find a Therapist resources
What is covered by FSAs and HSAs?
Both a healthcare flexible spending account (FSA) and a health savings account (HSA) can help you save money on health expenses, including some online counseling services.
An FSA is a savings account established by your employer with a portion of your monthly pay. It allows you to save money by not paying income taxes on the portion in your FSA. You can use this account to pay for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses, such as online therapy.
You can typically contribute only up to a certain amount to your FSA. Depending on your employer, you may have access to the funds immediately when you enroll or after you have contributed a significant amount.
An HSA works similarly to an FSA, but to contribute to an HSA, you must qualify and meet certain requirements, such as:
- You are not enrolled in Medicare.
- You are not claimed as a dependent on your partner’s or anyone else’s tax return.
- You have a high deductible health plan (HDHP), meaning you pay more for health costs covered by insurance.
A key difference between an FSA and an HSA is that an FSA stays with an employer, and you may lose access if you change employment.
On the other hand, an HSA is portable; you can take it with you.
Ask your employer whether they offer an FSA or HSA. Not all employers offer these tax-saving tools for health expenses.
If you don’t have health insurance (or even if you do), here’s what you can do to access affordable mental health care.
Try online counseling
While online therapy isn’t for everyone, it does have some advantages. For one, it tends to be less expensive than paying for counseling out of pocket.
Some people also find it more convenient than visiting a counselor in person. And in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s also a safer option for mental health support that allows you to physical distance.
BetterHelp is just one of many online therapy options out there. Talkspace, Regain, Pride Counseling, and Amwell offer comparable services.
Look for sliding scale providers
Some therapy providers offer what’s known as a sliding scale payment for their services. This means the fee will be based on your income, usually between $75 and $175 per session. The lower your income, the less you pay.
Be aware that you’ll likely have to show documentation to prove your annual income.
In most cases, sliding scale therapy is no different from regular therapy. However, you might have fewer options in terms of therapists and specialties available.
You can search for a sliding scale therapist using one of the following search tools:
- Find a Health Center
- Therapy Aid Coalition (currently only serving certain communities)
- The 7 Best Free Online Therapy Services 2022 | Psych Central
Ask about a sliding scale
If you’ve found a counselor you want to work with but can’t pay their fee, it doesn’t hurt to ask — respectfully — about a sliding scale payment option. While it’s not common, some counselors do offer this.
Reach out to the therapist and let them know your funds are limited. Ask whether they have a cash policy or other sliding scale option. Group therapy is another less-expensive option.
Even if they say no, they’ll likely be able to point you in the right direction.
Join a local support group
Support groups are a more affordable in-person therapy option. Many support groups are free to attend.
They’re often structured around a particular issue, like substance use disorders, depression, or chronic illness. One added benefit is that joining a support group will allow you to connect with others dealing with similar issues and challenges.
Look for a support group run by a licensed mental health professional or a peer advocate. It’s important to join a group with a moderator.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers peer-led support groups in cities across the country.
Try an educational institution or training center
Most therapists have to undergo a substantial amount of training before they obtain certification. As a result, many training institutions offer free or reduced-cost therapy services provided by counselors or clinicians in training before they obtain their licenses and other certifications.
These services are often available in universities and colleges that offer advanced degrees in psychology, social work, or counseling. Students are supervised by a licensed mental health professional with experience in a particular area of mental health treatment.
Check out community mental health centers
You might be able to find a free or low cost therapy option provided at a local mental health center. These services are often covered by Medicaid.
To find one, contact your
To talk with someone right now, try calling one of the following 24/7 crisis lines:
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline: 800-662-4357
- Samaritans Crisis Hotline: 212-673-3000
- YouthLine: 877-968-8491
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
Text-based options are also available. These include:
It takes courage to reach out for help. If you want to seek help but you’re not sure where to start, you can also contact your doctor or another healthcare professional if you have one.
If you’re having thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself or someone else, call 911 or go directly to your nearest emergency room.
BetterHelp is an online, subscription-based therapy service. It’s one of many therapy options you can access online. BetterHelp is not covered by health insurance. It does offer financial assistance, or you may be able to get reimbursed by your health insurance provider.
Be sure to check with your insurance provider on coverage first, so you’ll be aware of the costs. Also consider other options, such as group therapy, finding a therapist locally, or one of the other online counseling services available.
There are lots of ways to get support that are affordable and available.