Updated: Mar 19, 2021
Traditionally, mental health services have been held in person but over the years, and especially since the COVID-19 pandemic started, technology has started to play a greater role. Telehealth is health care services provided through technology whether that is a voice call, video call, text message, or potentially even email. As these services have become more and more popular insurance providers have been attempting to determine when they would cover these services.
When considering your therapy options, it is important to know whether the treatment you are going to be receiving is covered by your insurance. Throughout 2020 insurance plans utilized co-pay waivers and other temporary solutions to assist clients in getting the care they needed without having to worry as much about finances. However, in 2021 we are seeing that, while telehealth continues to be a preferred method of providing services for counseling and other helping industries due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that these temporary policies are no longer in effect for specific clients.
You may be wondering, "What does this mean for me?" Depending on the insurance coverage you have, you may be expected to pay a deductible instead of only having to pay a copay for services provided through telehealth. The Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services has permitted Medicaid insurance providers to allow for telehealth to be covered fully (along with telephone calls) in order to help meet clients where they are in terms of technology availability.
"In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the President’s emergency declaration and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services broadened access to telehealth services to include psychotherapy and other mental health practices.
According to the Medicare website, Medicare Part B covers certain telehealth services such as psychotherapy. For most of the services, you'll pay the same amount that you would if you got the services in person. That said, there are always caveats, and it’s in your best interest to contact the customer service number on your insurance card or ask your provider for more information" (Lindberg, 2020).
Commercial or employer-sponsored insurances, however, have been falling back to the plan benefits. While telehealth services have been around for multiple years at this point, it is not guaranteed that they are included in basic outpatient therapy service options in commercial and employer-sponsored insurance plans.