How to Find a Counselor I Can Afford

Posted on January 8, 2013

Finding an affordable counselor isn’t an easy task.  There are many financial options available to make counseling affordable; however, understanding your financial resources and the skillset of the counselor is vital and important as you consider counseling for yourself or for your family member.  There are essentially three financial options in considering affordable counseling.

Private Pay

Most families these days don’t have private health insurance and counseling can seem to be a very overwhelming expense.  Any counseling agency understands the dilemma a family faces and will reduce their hourly fee to make counseling more affordable.  Just be sure you understand the counselor’s educational level to ensure you are getting the highest counseling credential possible for your dollar. 

A sliding scale fee is available in most counseling agencies.  A sliding fee scale will reduce the counseling fee per hour based on total gross income for your family.  Total gross income is defined as the yearly dollars made prior to taxes being taken out.  Be sure to ask the counseling agency if they are able to reduce the fee because you are privately paying.  A fully licensed counselor is often willing to work with any person who might need financial assistance.  Again, be sure to ask the counseling agency before setting up an appointment.

Most often with a reduced fee, you will not receive a fully licensed counselor but a counselor who has a Master’s degree in counseling working to get their clinical hours for state licensure.  They are required to be under the supervision of a licensed counselor and so you receive two counselors for the price of one.  Some counseling agencies have interns, people trying to obtain their Master’s degree in counseling, and the counseling fee will be even further reduced, making the counseling very affordable.

Health Insurance

Depending on your health insurance policy, counseling is usually a covered expense.   However, it depends on what issue you are seeking counseling for.  Marital therapy or relationship counseling isn’t a covered health insurance expense.  More often, individual therapy and sometimes family counseling is covered by private health insurance companies like: Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, or Aetna.  It is important you know your insurance coverage because not all health insurance policies are the same. 

Even if you are recommended to a particular counselor, doesn’t mean they are within your insurance provider network.  Out of network benefits are also available for counselors who aren’t covered specifically by your insurance policy.  An inexpensive co-pay is required at the time of service with a counselor and then the counseling agency will file the insurance for you.  Be sure to ask the counseling agency of their health insurance policies and counselors who are within your health insurance network.

Also, if you have a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you can apply your pre-tax dollars to the counselor of your choice.  This doesn’t require the counselor to be in any health insurance network and you can have the freedom to choose the counselor you would like to see.  Only counselors who have a license in your particular state qualify to utilize health insurance.

Government-Assistance (Medicaid, Medicare)

Medicaid and Medicare are specific types of insurance that is given to families who qualify by state and/or federal government standards.  If you have either Medicaid or Medicare and you would like to utilize the government resources, you need to find a counseling agency that meets state and federal requirements.  Not all counseling agencies are qualified to manage Medicaid/Medicare families.  If you have Medicaid or Medicare, make sure you contact counseling agencies who are qualified to take you before you set up a counseling appointment.

Don’t be afraid to ask for any financial assistance when seeking counseling for you or your family member.  Counseling is intended to be a healing process that isn’t meant to cause financial distress.  It’s important that you seek the right counselor at the right price.

 

Written by: Sally Groff, LMFT

Sally Groff is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Registered Play Therapist in Indianapolis, IN.   She is the Clinical Director of Groff & Associates and is an AAMFT Approved Supervisor.  Her passion is to offer Godly and professional care to families.  Her desire is to celebrate great families and for our children to be ready and equipped for a bright and promised future.  Contact Sally Groff to discuss your family situation with her.

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NzE6Imh0dHA6Ly9ncm9mZmFuZGFzc29jaWF0ZXMuY29tL3dwLWNvbnRlbnQvd29vX3VwbG9hZHMvMy1ncm9mZl9oZWFkZXIucG5nIjt9PC9saT48L3VsPg==