Health insurance protects people from paying medical bills out of their own pocket. However, some people and families are unable to afford health insurance or are not eligible to receive it.
Statistics from the United States Census Bureau state that in 2018, 27.5 million people did not have any form of health insurance.
If a person or family does not have insurance, it means that they may be unable to pay medical bills if they require treatment. This could potentially lead them into debt.
Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults have a diagnosed mental health condition. It is likely that many more do not have a diagnosis or struggle with emotional or behavioral issues that do not fall in the remit of a diagnosis. These people may require some form of therapy to support them.
For those who do not have insurance, the prospect of needing to pay for therapy may be daunting and not feasible. However, in the U.S., there are some options for cheaper or free therapy should a person require it.
This article will discuss some therapy options that may be available to people and families without insurance.
Medicaid is a type of public health insurance for U.S. citizens from low income households. A person who meets certain criteria may be eligible for Medicaid.
The types of treatment that Medicaid covers can vary by state. Also, factors such as the reason for needing therapy and the type of therapy a person needs will play a part in whether or not Medicaid will cover it.
Learn more about Medicaid here.
People who do not have insurance and are unable to afford therapy may consider approaching a sliding scale therapist.
A sliding scale therapist will consider the circumstances of the individual and calculate a fee based on this. This fee will be lower than what the therapist usually charges.
Instead of a one-off fee, a person may also be able to set up an affordable payment plan with the therapist.
Training clinics are clinics, often at a university, where graduate students can gain practical experience to become psychologists or therapists.
As the student is not yet fully qualified, a person may be able to approach these clinics for therapy at a cheaper rate
If a person lives near a university, it may be worth calling their psychology department to see if they have a training clinic.
Some U.S. states have free or low income mental health services. Similar to training clinics, these services may recruit students who are training to be psychologists, counselors, or social workers to provide support that is free or low cost.
These clinics may be able to help with things such as medication management, and they may also be able to provide treatment for mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
A federally funded health center is a healthcare facility that is community-based. This means that they receive funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to provide care and treatment for people in underserved areas.
According to the HRSA, these centers must provide care on a sliding fee scale. Therefore, this may be an affordable option for people in more rural areas.
There are some therapy apps that a person can use to talk with a licensed therapist. They may be able to do this through webcam or text.
A 2016 review of online services that provide psychiatric help suggests that this method is more cost effective than receiving similar treatment in person.
When looking for a therapist, a person should be upfront in stating that they do not have insurance. They can then ask if the therapist offers any discounted rates.
Some therapists are happy to provide discounted rates for people without insurance if they pay upfront with cash. This is because it means that they get the payment immediately, instead of having to sort the paperwork relating to the insurance.
People looking for mental health support may be able to access free local support groups or join an online forum. These tend to be peer-to-peer support without intervention from a mental health professional.
Some research notes that online support groups may be useful for people with depression. This method may lead to improvements in daily functioning and help reduce feelings of isolation.
Although support groups may provide some positive benefits, they do not replace the professional help that a licensed therapist can provide.
If a person is struggling to find a therapy option that fits their budget, they may need to consider reevaluating their expenses.
For example, they could write down all their incoming and outgoing expenses for 1 or 2 months, then review this and see whether or not they can cut back on some outgoing expenses.
Alternatively, if possible, a person or family may consider creating a savings account specifically for therapy.
People who do not have health insurance may find it difficult to afford therapy and need to seek low cost or free alternatives.
There are several organizations that offer therapy at a reduced rate or on a sliding fee scale. A person who requires therapy may want to consider these options to gain access to mental health support.