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Clients

5 Benefits of Paying Out of Pocket for Therapy

Brandon Grill
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September 6, 2023
And why it's not as bad as you think...

Whether or not you have insurance, paying out of pocket for therapy can be a great option. But why would you choose not to use your insurance if you have it?

Surprisingly, there are great reasons to pay out of pocket. In this blog we’ll break down the important things you need to know and share our top 5 reasons to skip the insurance maze.

Is paying out of pocket right for you? Read on to find out.

Paying for Therapy Out of Pocket

So, what does it mean to pay for therapy out of pocket?

It’s when you pay your therapist for their services directly. No insurance, no middleman. Just you and your therapist exchanging money for services.

In a world where therapy is becoming more expensive, why would you want to pay out of pocket?

Is Paying Out of Pocket for Therapy Worth it?

The less expensive option is to have your insurance pay for therapy. Assuming you have insurance, this is the better option for most people. So, why would anyone decline help from their insurance?

Most of the concerns have to do with the insurance itself. Listen to one therapists’ comment about insurance:

“It’s a massive headache overall. Lots of payment delays, low reimbursement rates, processing issues, inexplicable claim rejections, too much pressure to diagnose, no cancellation reimbursement (depending on type), less privacy for clients…list goes on. It sucks. The entire system sucks (for clients and therapists alike). I’m still trying to figure out a way to provide services in a way that [is] both accessible to clients but also not somewhat screwing me financially as a therapist.”

And on the client side it may not be much better, as you’ll see below.

All of these concerns can make accessing help more difficult. For a lot of people, the time and energy hassle is too much. While we wait for new regulations to take effect, paying out of pocket can be a great option.

Why Pay Out of Pocket if You Have Insurance?

As mentioned above, if you have insurance there still may be good reasons to pay out of pocket.

Major reasons include avoiding the time and energy hassle of making and following up on claims. Others pay out of pocket to protect their privacy. And still others want to avoid the diagnosis that’s required to use insurance.

Let’s take a look at the top 5 benefits of paying out of pocket for therapy.

The Benefits of Paying Out of Pocket for Therapy

In this section, you’ll learn the top 5 benefits of paying for therapy out of pocket. Let’s get started with the most pressing concern…

1. Confidentiality

Confidentiality is a big concern for therapy seekers. This is especially true for government workers, lawyers, policemen, and others. Paying out of pocket keeps insurance companies out of your personal life where they don’t belong.

2. Avoiding a Diagnosis

Most insurances won’t cover therapy without a clear diagnosis from your therapist. Luckily, you don’t have to jump through this hoop when you pay out of pocket. Another benefit of this is that any diagnosis you do need won’t be premature. Your therapist can take their time and diagnose you correctly from the start, rather than rush a diagnosis just to use your insurance benefits.

3. No More Insurance Hassles

Don’t underestimate the amount of hassle you can avoid by paying out of pocket. Insurance networks are infamous for making it hard to get reimbursed. Long phone hold times, claims that are denied for no reason, and added stress for your therapist are all reasons to forgo insurance. Ditch the insurance maze to get your time and energy back.

4. Get the Therapist YOU Want

In some cases, the best therapist for you doesn’t take insurance. Or doesn’t take your particular insurance. So, what will you do? If you can afford it, the better option is to pay out of pocket for the therapist you want to work with. The relationship you have with your therapist is a big predictor of success in therapy. So, don’t hold back when it comes to getting the best help available.

5. Some Types of Therapy Aren’t Covered

Insurance doesn’t usually cover couples therapy or sex therapy. If you’re seeking help in these areas, you may have no choice but to pay out of pocket. But fear not, we cover cheaper options below.

There you have 5 strong reasons to pay out of pocket for therapy. The rest of this article will focus on other common concerns, as well as other options for getting therapy affordably.

Should I Pay for Therapy Out of Pocket?

If any of the 5 benefits above appeal to you, paying out of pocket is best. Using your insurance requires your therapist to share your diagnosis and treatment method with your insurance company. So, it may be better to pay out of pocket.

Due to the stigma around mental health, some may wonder if it’s normal to pay for therapy out of pocket. Another way to ask the above question is “is it okay to spend money on therapy?"

As we see it at Thrizer, it’s acceptable and even desirable that you spend money on therapy. After all, what could be more important than your mental health?

Your mental health affects every other aspect of your life - financial, physical, spiritual, emotional, and more. An investment in your mental health now could make every area of your life easier (or at least give you the bandwidth needed to deal with each).

Make the best decision that you can for your situation. If you can afford to pay for therapy out of pocket, we believe it’s an investment worth making.

Now, what if you can’t afford to pay out of pocket? Here’s a few options:

What Can I Do if I Don’t Have the Money for Therapy?

Have you ever thought “I can’t afford therapy?” If you have, you’re not alone. The cost of mental health (and most things in general) has gone up recently due to inflation, and therapy is often first to get cut.

However, affordable therapy may still be within reach. Consider using these options:

Sliding Scale Rates

A sliding scale rate is when your therapy fee adjusts to match your income level. This is a great option for people who don’t earn a high income. Ask each therapist you consider working with about their sliding scale rates. A lot of therapists are willing to offer a smaller fee for clients who don’t earn a high income.

Employee Assistance Programs

Ask your HR department if your company offers employee assistance for things like therapy. Even if there’s a session cap, you may be able to get a few sessions of therapy covered at no cost to you. This is worth asking about even if you’re not sure what your company offers.

Free Therapy at a College or University

A lot of higher education institutions offer free or inexpensive therapy. This is true both for students and in some cases the general public. To see if your local college offers free (or inexpensive) therapy, contact their student resources department via phone or email.

Group Therapy

Another overlooked option is group therapy. You may think “I don’t want a ton of people to know about my issues.” Be comforted to know that group therapy members take an oath of confidentiality. Everyone there is just like you - seeking help for their mental health. If you’re having trouble affording therapy, consider joining a group. You’ll learn new things about yourself as you interact with others.

If you need help getting affordable therapy, look into each of the 4 options above.

Get the Help You Deserve

Now you should be armed with the knowledge and options to make a strong decision. 

You know that there are some concerns around confidentiality and hassle when it comes to using insurance for therapy. And you now know the top 5 benefits of paying out of pocket.

Finally, you know that you have other options to make therapy more affordable and accessible. These include sliding scale rates, group therapy, and others.

We want to leave you with a note of hope. You deserve access to mental health resources. The help you can access, whether through out of pocket, insurance, or some other means will be valuable for your mental health.

Don’t hesitate to get the help you deserve.

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This blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal, business, medical, or insurance advice. Laws relating to health insurance and coverage are complex, and their application can vary widely depending on individual circumstances and state laws. Similarly, decisions regarding mental health care should be made with the guidance of qualified health care providers. We strongly recommend consulting with a qualified attorney or legal advisor, insurance representative, and/or medical professional to discuss your specific situation and how the laws apply to you or your situation.

About the Author
Brandon Grill

Brandon Grill is a mental health copywriter and marketer based in Las Vegas, NV. He loves helping mental health professionals build fulfilling businesses. You can find Brandon going on a walk with his adorable nephews.