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Curbing Mental Health Costs

Each year, 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. suffer from a mental health problem. The most common mental health problems are anxiety, substance abuse, and depression.

Mental healthcare can be costly, even for people with health insurance. Medicines for these conditions are costly. Also, therapist charges per counseling session vary. Costs depend on where you live, the therapist's level of training and years of experience.

What to think about

These tips can help control your costs while you get the help you need:

  • Check your coverage. Health insurance companies vary in what they pay for mental health treatment. Some plans cover everything except the copay per session, once a deductible is met. Other plans place dollar limits on outpatient programs, but leave inpatient programs intact. Sometimes an insurance company limits the type and extent of mental health treatment it will pay. They may limit the amount of money paid to providers. Knowing what to expect ahead of time can help you plan your finances.

  • Choose a provider who is in your network. Out-of-network providers can cost a lot more.

  • Ask for a price break. Some therapists offer a sliding-scale fee schedule for people, based on income.

  • Look into your community's mental health centers. Local governments often fund public resources, such as community mental health centers.

  • Think about group therapy. Group sessions often cost far less than individual therapy.

  • Try complementary therapies. Yoga, meditation, massage, and other alternative therapies may provide relief for stress-related conditions.

Prescription drugs

To reduce the amount you pay for prescription drugs:

  • Ask your healthcare provider if you can switch to a lower-cost generic or a less costly brand.

  • Ask your healthcare provider for samples of the drugs you take.

  • Check out mail order and online pharmacies. Sometimes these pharmacies can fill your prescription at a large savings. Be sure to check a company's reputation and service guarantees before using your credit card.

Finally, find out if your company has an employee assistance program (EAP). Mental health help may be available on-site or through an associated provider at no cost to you.


Online Medical Reviewer: Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed.
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 10/15/2018
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