Everything You Need To Know About Online Therapy and Insurance

Updated August 11, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Audrey Kelly, LMFT

Introduction To Digital Therapy Costs

Many people are putting off getting much-needed counseling because they’re concerned about the costs. As mental health advocacy grows and more people understand counseling benefits, more options are opening up for people to manage counseling costs and get behavioral coverage.

The good news is that major health providers like Blue Cross Blue Shield are jumping on the bandwagon and providing behavioral health coverage options for in-person and remote counseling services as a part of their health care benefits package. In this article, we help you understand the cost of counseling by summarizing counseling coverage and remote counseling coverage benefits. Finally, we provide you with a brief overview of what happens in today’s counseling sessions. 

So, how much does counseling cost? A big part of understanding the cost of counseling is understanding the limits of insurance coverage. If you’re lucky enough to have a health insurance provider that will pay therapists and covers the cost of behavioral health and counseling sessions online, congratulations! You’re a member of a newly emerging group of insured that can enjoy these benefits.

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How Does Insurance Cover Online Therapy?

Major healthcare insurance providers like Blue Cross Blue Shield offer their members coverage for behavioral health services online with licensed and certified providers. BCBS members can get online therapy support for chronic mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder (BPD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the privacy and comfort of their own homes or other selected environments.

Major health insurance coverage for online therapy varies by state. Check with your health insurance provider to learn what benefits you may qualify for under your plans’ behavioral health benefits. Online behavioral health benefits operate like their offline counterparts, providing that clients participate in online therapy sessions with licensed therapists authorized by the plan. Coverage for therapy can be complicated.

Always check with your behavioral health benefits provider before scheduling sessions with a licensed provider to learn your health benefits coverages.

How Much Does Out-Of-Pocket Online Therapy Cost?

How much does therapy cost out of pocket? The average cost of therapy or rate for therapy depends, in part, on where it occurs. In-office therapy sessions with licensed practitioners currently range between $65.00 and $200.00 per session. Factors that affect the costs include graphical location, therapy education and experience, concurrent conditions, and specialty practice.

Mental health clients who live in major cities or states with a high cost-of-living index can expect to pay more for online mental health care services in their state than behavioral health clients in cities and states with a lower cost of living.

Online therapy sessions typically range between $35.00 and $99.00 an hour and provide unlimited messaging therapy sessions with online providers in real-time via chat, email, video, or SMS messaging. Many people turn to online therapy because of its affordable costs as an alternative to attending in-office therapy.
Taking part in therapy sessions online eliminates frustrating commutes, lowers gas costs, and can be a life-saver for clients who suffer from social anxiety or immobility-related concerns. It can be hard to find a therapist in person who meets all of your needs, personal and financial. Online practitioners can provide therapy that is just as efficient and thoughtful as it would be in person. Working with a therapist online may provide a low-cost therapy experience for those who need it.

Three Counseling Payment Options

  1. Free / Low-Cost counseling – free or low-cost therapy is an income-based payment option that provides low, reduced cost, or free therapy to income-qualified mental health clients. Free or low-cost therapy can also be offered through organizations like nonprofits. In some cases, free therapy may be available to individuals through organizations like universities. In general, free or low-cost therapy can encompass different types of services. You can speak to practitioners or healthcare professionals about how to best seek out free or low-cost options.
  1. Sliding Fee Scale – Also, an income form-based payment option, sliding-fee scale therapy provides services based on client income. These therapists don’t charge patients the same standard rate. They may offer therapy at a reduced rate compared to the average cost of treatment.
  2. Standard Counseling Fees – These are standard out-of-pocket fees that offline and online therapy providers charge. Therapists charge per session or hour generally. We consider these fees reasonable and customary and range from $35 – $200.00 per hour or session.

In-office Counseling Sessions – The Basics

When you schedule an in-office therapy session with your chosen provider, you’re likely to have to wait a few days (or even weeks in some cases) before you’re able to get into the office to see a provider.
Your therapist will ask you important questions about your lifestyle on your initial visit and have you complete one or more questionnaires to narrow down your symptoms and diagnosis.
Once your therapist has determined the appropriate diagnosis for your situation, the two of you will work together to develop a treatment plan that comprises realistic goals and scheduling therapy sessions that fit with your current lifestyle. Your therapist may suggest incorporating various types of therapy and strategies into your treatment plan. When you and your therapist agree on a treatment plan, the next step is for you to attend therapy sessions online.
Most in-office therapy sessions last between forty-five minutes to an hour and are billed on an hourly basis as an out-of-pocket expense (or covered by behavioral health insurance.) Now that you understand how in-office therapy sessions work, let’s look at how distance therapy works.
 

Four Ways To Get Online Therapy

 
Online therapy encompasses a wide variety of virtual therapy options. We can categorize online therapy sessions into distance therapy, telepsychology, telehealth, and telemedicine. Online therapy sessions follow the same protocols as traditional in-office therapy – from a distance.
When mental health clients choose distance therapy online, clients and therapists connect in online sessions to develop treatment plans, help clients hash out major life issues, and develop new coping skills by getting professional advice and insight from a neutral third party.
Like traditional therapy, they expect mental health clients to adhere to the goals and standards outlined in their treatment plan to achieve recognizable results. Now we will look at four ways today’s mental health clients are getting distance therapy online.
  • Web Therapy – This form of distance therapy involves a client and board-certified or licensed therapists meeting virtually via the therapy platform. Clients and therapists connect via private video chat sessions similar to Skype from the comfort and privacy of the location of their choosing.
They use web therapy sessions for individual counseling sessions, group sessions, and family therapy. You can also access other services, like couples therapy or behavioral therapy. Many platforms have built-in features that allow multiple therapy participants to connect remotely from different locations and join the session in a group video chat. It may sound not very easy, but you already know what having a private, confidential web session feels like if you already use Skype or Facetime.
A web therapy session in practice will likely be fairly similar to an in-person session. Meeting with a therapist online can still include different techniques, like cognitive behavioral therapy, and approaches, like physical engagement and activities. Even though online services, you can find a therapist who works well with you and with the challenges you want to tackle.
  • Texting / Chat Therapy – This is the most popular form of online therapy because of its ease of use. They conduct texting therapy sessions via mobile phone apps where both users (the client and the therapist in this case) log in to their apps and begin texting therapy sessions within a private text chat room.
These private chats happen in real-time, and both parties have access to previous session archives and the ability to send and receive messages twenty-four hours a day. Texting therapy can also be conducted using SMS messaging, where the client and therapist exchange contact information and send SMS messages back and forth in a therapeutic conversation.
  • Phone Therapy – Clients and therapists exchange phone numbers or agree to call into a conference calling service with a universally shared number to have voice chat sessions via phone.
Both parties dial into scheduled therapy sessions at the agreed-upon time and discuss therapy updates, client challenges, and victories, and plan for future activities by phone. Sometimes both the client and therapist will opt to have therapy sessions via regular telephone conversations. How online therapy sessions occur is up to the discretion of behavioral health clients and therapists.
  • Video Chat Therapy
Face-to-face video therapy sessions are the most like in-office therapy appointments as clients and therapists can see each other face-to-face. Clients and therapists connect to therapy platforms via mobile phones, desktops, laptops, and tablets to have scheduled therapy sessions online.
 
Therapists can note visual changes and improvements in their client’s appearances over time. While clients can get a clear picture of sentiment and tone when listening to their therapist’s advice. Sometimes video chat sessions are arranged between therapists and clients outside therapy platforms using popular video chat software like Facetime or Skype.
 
Final Thoughts About Online Therapy Costs
 
The question “how much does therapy cost?” can be a complicated one.  Paying for therapy can feel like an obstacle, but it doesn’t have to be. Now that you’ve read our guide feel more confident when deciding to take part in online therapy. Online therapy costs are substantially lower than in-office therapy costs and also offer clients more privacy and convenience. There are a few methods for paying for online therapy sessions: low-cost or free therapy, sliding scale therapy, out-of-pocket therapy, health insurance-based therapy (with co-pay), and finally, health insurance reimbursement.
 
Regardless of which payment method you choose, there are many options available for today’s mental health clients to take part in online therapy that provides the highest standards in quality care. Today’s therapy platforms like ReGain.US are HIPPA and BAA compliant, and all therapists on the platform are board-certified within their state of residence.
 
Getting therapy online is easier than ever before. Therapists don’t have to be limited to a traditional face-to-face methodology to provide their services. The ability to meet with a therapist online offers mental health clients the convenience to take charge of their mental health care and avoid further stigma by attending confidential sessions from the privacy of their home or office – at a price they can afford. If you’re ready to get started on the pathway to heal your life, reach out to a ReGain.us therapy specialist today to get started!

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Therapy Is Personal
Therapy is a personal experience, and not everyone will go into it seeking the same things. Keeping these things in mind can ensure that you will get the most out of online therapy, regardless of your specific goals. If you’re still wondering if therapy is right for you and how much therapy costs, please contact us at contact@betterhelp.com. BetterHelp specializes in online therapy to help address all types of mental health concerns. If you’re interested in individual therapy, please reach out to contact@betterhelp.com. For more information about BetterHelp as a company, please find us on:
If you need a crisis hotline or want to learn more about therapy, please see below:

For more information on mental health, please see:

Get Help Now
  • Emergency: 911
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1- 800-799-7233
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
  • Crisis Text Line: Text “DESERVE” TO 741-741
  • Lifeline Crisis Chat (Online live messaging): https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
  • Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (366-8288)
  • Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228
  • Planned Parenthood Hotline: 1-800-230-PLAN (7526)
  • American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222
  • National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency Hope Line: 1-800-622-2255
  • National Crisis Line – Anorexia and Bulimia: 1-800-233-4357
  • LGBTQ+ Hotline: 1-888-843-4564
  • TREVOR Crisis Hotline: 1-866-488-7386
  • AIDS Crisis Line: 1-800-221-7044
  • Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net
  • TransLifeline: https://www.translifeline.org – 877-565-8860 APA Youtube
  • Suicide Prevention Wiki: http://suicideprevention.wikia.com
Further Reading About Online Therapy

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