Paying for Care

Understand what’s covered and ways to pay

Explore your options

Paying for mental health care can be expensive. Health insurance plans are supposed to cover mental health costs in the same way as physical health and surgical costs, but they don't always do so.

Insurance can be especially hard to figure out for mental health care because the cost to the patient (and family) can be different depending on the particular insurance plan, type of provider, type of medication or treatment, or even where the treatment is administered.

To further complicate matters, some psychiatrists and therapists don't accept insurance. Some may offer a sliding scale based on a patient's (or family's) income or ability to pay.

Caregivers can help their loved ones deal with payment and coverage issues. They can:

  • pursue appeals on insurance coverage denials
  • talk with the insurance provider's customer service representative to figure out which services and treatments are covered
  • help their loved one apply for benefits from state and federal government agencies
  • negotiate with providers for sliding-scale rates.

Of course, some people don't have health insurance at all. Assistance for mental health care is available. Your loved one may be able to receive affordable services through a community mental health center. If they meet income guidelines, they may qualify for Medicaid coverage. Finally, former military personnel and their families may be eligible for care through Veterans Affairs.

Family Stories: Insurance Issues

Expert Perspectives: Accessing and Paying for Care