When Insurance Is Not Helpful

You might be wondering why I don’t take insurance.  It’s a question I get a lot.  

Value of Therapy

Most of our financial situations aren’t a simple matter of money-in and money-out.  We all spend our money based on what we value.  And for things we value, we are willing to spend the money.  

My clients find value in the service I provide.  Many of them began working with me when I was in-network with insurance and they’ve opted to stay.  My clients find a connection with me and feel that they have made progress in their lives as a result.  

What are the things that you value enough to pay a little more for them?  Maybe you value a great cup of coffee.  It might be less expensive to hit the chain with the drive-thru.  But you get a smooth infusion of caffeine from the place down the street where the guy roasts his own beans.  This cup of joe might cost a couple bucks more, but you love the coffee and you like the guy that owns the place, too.  It’s hard to drink drive-thru coffee after that.  

Resolving your emotional life is not coffee, though.  The issues you bring into therapy are interfere in how you live your life.  They might be causing you constant conflict with your spouse or trouble meeting your goals at work.  You might be so paralyzed by anxiety and depression that getting out of bed or falling asleep is a problem for you every single day.  You can’t keep going like that.  Coming to sessions is not a casual encounter.  Everything we discuss has a purpose and can have a major impact on your life.  

I want you to know that I value this work, too.  I wouldn’t do it otherwise.  Personally, I have experienced the transformational nature in my own life.  And I value it enough that I invest time and money in post-graduate training and consultation with trusted colleagues about how best to serve my clients.

 

Insurance companies dictate what we do 

When we as therapists are on insurance panels, much of how we serve you is governed by them.  They frequently dictate the type of therapy we might do with you and it doesn’t matter to them whether it’s a good fit for you or not.  They tell us how long our sessions can be and to me, that’s baloney.  

Typically, we would meet for a 45 or 60-minute session and we might either make that decision together or I use my clinical judgment about what might work best.  One of the major health insurance companies refuses to pay for anything more than a 45-minute session.  This is something I have a real problem with.  Because they don’t know you.  

Insurance companies have rules about taking in-network clients with no consideration as to whether a therapist has any experience dealing with specific issues.  For example, you want the shoulder specialist to operate on your shoulder and not the ankle specialist.  In the same way, you wouldn’t want a therapist with zero experience with infidelity, for example, taking care of you, if that’s what you need help with.  There are some issues that I don’t feel skilled enough to work with.  My practice is focused on specific concerns because I have experience helping people with those issues.  

You’ve also likely heard from other providers – like your chiropractor or other healthcare specialist – that what insurance pays does not adequately compensate providers for the level of education and experience required to execute the work with excellence.  For some providers, their schedules are so packed that even finding time to write their notes, go to the bathroom, or seek consultation from other professionals is impossible.  The reason they are so booked is because they need to see twice as many clients as they should to make ends meet.

Seeing a comfortable and realistic amount of clients per week allows me to focus only on you.  The time you and I spend together in session, your concerns are the only thing on my mind.  I work to provide the best service for you because you aren’t just a random alpha-numeric code on an insurance card.  

Privacy

Bypassing health insurance for therapy also minimizes the access a company has to your private information.  Occasionally, an insurance company might choose you at random and call me requesting notes on you.  The terms of your policy allow them to have access to this information in order to continue paying for it.  Sometimes, these are a matter of auditing whether the therapist is continuing to play by the insurance’s rules, but they also have the authority to pull the plug on your treatment.  This is another thing I have a real problem with.  I understand that they are also a business and invested in their bottom line.  But it minimizes the complicated layers of your emotional life.  

Out-of-Network Benefits

This little tidbit doesn’t have to do with my beef (or whatever the plural of “beef” is) with insurance companies.  But in some cases, clients find that their out-of-network benefits help defray the cost of therapy.  What this means is, if you have these benefits, you would pay for our sessions, and I would provide you with a bill.  

I hope that I’ve answered some of your questions about why I’ve decided to leave insurance panels.  It’s a rough decision for a provider to make and it’s also a challenging one for clients, too.  

If you are interested in working with me, you can reach me by email at christine@snyderlcsw.com or at 201-248-5552.  

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