What's more, even though the best online therapy services are so much cheaper than regular therapy, it's still worth checking to see if your health insurance will cover the costs. Many policies do cover this newer form of therapy, and it can offset the costs even further.
Online Therapy: A Godsend During a Crisis
Online therapy has been on an even bigger rise since the outbreak of COVID-19. People unable to get out to their in-person sessions are seeking tele alternatives to their regularly scheduled sessions. Online therapy is the perfect solution during these times when social distancing and self-isolation are required.
Additionally, the corona crisis has created a wave of mental health issues, both mild and severe. Forced to spend long days alone, not being allowed to go out for stretches of time, is taking quite a serious toll on the mental health of many Americans. And even those who are able to go back to work or walk around freely are being affected adversely by the virus. There is a lot of added stress from the various rules and regulations, the upheaval of routine, and the discomfort of wearing masks constantly. Parents with school-age children are also suffering from overload, having to juggle work, parenting, and now teaching, as well.
With so many stress-inducing situations creating new issues every day, Corona has forced insurance companies to reassess how they cover mental health issues. This is good news for patients as it means many insurance companies will start to cover alternative therapies, including telehealth and online therapy, making it even easier for people to access this viable solution for working through mental and emotional health issues they may be dealing with currently. Ultimately, it is the decision of the insurance company and not the online therapy service whether or not to cover your therapy. But some sites work more closely with the insurance companies than others.
There are a lot of online therapists out there, but you don’t want to trust your mental health to just anyone. If you’re using online therapy for the first time then you want to make sure you go with a service you can trust.
Here are ten of the best online therapy services to help you work through your emotional and mental concerns successfully:
- Video therapy available
- Accepts close to 50 insurance companies
- Accredited, HIPAA compliant
- Not all insurance providers cover therapy
- Sometimes there are hiccups connecting with the insurance
*Out of pocket fees
Amwell is one of the most reputable online therapy services, and it also accepts insurance. In fact, Amwell is one of the most widely used telehealthcare services for insurance companies. Working with approximately 50 different carriers from Aetna, Anthem, and Blue Cross Blue Shield to Medica, UnitedHealthCare, and WebTPA, Amwell works together with the insurance providers to bring online therapy to more people across the country.
Amwell has more than 350 licensed and practicing psychologies, social workers, and therapists sessions last about 45 minutes. What's nice about this service is that all sessions are totally private, not available to anyone else, and never recorded. And in case you're feeling a little uncomfortable with the whole therapy process in general, Amwell has a fantastic feature that allows you to turn off your camera so that the therapist can't see your face during the sessions. Some people prefer to have a face-to-face with the therapist. But if you're new to online therapy or don't feel comfortable exposing yourself like that, then this is a great feature.
Amwell is also accredited by the American Telemedicine Association, which means it is closely monitored to follow all safety and privacy requirements.
- Clean, easy to use website
- Works with medicare and employee/private insurances
- Great mobile app
- Have to pay before the session
- Initial session is pricey
*Out of pocket fees
MDLive has close to 40 million members in its network that have been helped through its secure phone and video telehealthcare services. The process is faster than traditional therapy, and you can usually book an appointment within a day or so. MDLive therapists can help you work through a huge range of mental health issues, including addiction, depression, eating disorders, grief, men’s and women’s issues, LGBTQ support, trauma, stress, and more.
In addition to mental health issues, MDLive doctors are available for a tremendous variety of other medical problems, including allergies, the flu, dermatological issues, UTIs, respiratory problems, and many more. Therapists can be accessed via your computer or mobile devices using the iOS and Android mobile apps (free on the app stores). MDLive works with both Medicare and employer-provided insurance plans, as well as private insurance plans that cover virtual doctor’s visits. MDLive is also HIPAA-compliant and holds a strict code of ethics to uphold the privacy and safety of its patients.
3. Doctor on Demand
- Detailed doctor’s profile pages
- Can prescribe medications
- Experienced therapists
- More expensive than competitors
- Fewer therapists available
*Out of pocket fees
Doctor on Demand has a team of psychiatrists and therapists that have been rated 4.9 out of 5 by their own patients. And this online therapy service takes the whole process very seriously from start to finish. You'll begin by filling out a questionnaire. Doctor on Demand will use your answers to find you the most fitting therapist for your issue. Alternatively, you can browse the network to find the therapist that you relate to the most. Doctor on Demand makes this easy by providing details profile pages for each doctor in the network. Profiles include things like background, qualifications, and specialties for each therapist. Therapists and psychiatrists in the network have an average of 15 years of experience, too. So, you are in trustworthy hands with a Doctor on Demand doctor.
Of course, Doctor on Demand accepts many different types of insurance plans. What's also nice about these professionals is that they can prescribe medications as part of the therapy sessions. So, the psychiatrist can order the e-script, send it directly to the pharmacy of your choice, and you can have your medication in hours, not days.
- Women-focused mental health care
- Totally free sessions
- Group sessions, focused on issues
- Individual sessions not available right now
- Not suitable for all mental health issues
Real to the People is a brand new service that was launched as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic that is rocking the world. It took on even more power after the murder of George Floyd and made it a mission to fight injustice throughout the country. Everything about Real is creating shockwaves in the world, as the tagline states, it is redefining therapy. For one thing, Real is a mental health studio (not your typical therapy sessions), and it's designed specifically for women’s mental health. But what’s revolutionary about this platform is that it offers online therapy services completely for free and free group therapy sessions.
Real offers group therapy, an initiative meant to bring healing sessions to a wider public audience. These sessions are free, and they're designed to provide a safe, open space where people can come to emote, grieve, and connect with other humans trying to process emotional difficulties during these trying times. Group sessions are designed to bring a collective healing experience to like-minded people and include initiatives like The Unplug Collective (for young black women and gender-expansive people), Growth and Allyship (for personal growth, anti-racism, and working with trauma), and free group therapy for people of color.
5. 7 Cups
- Free emotional support
- Available 24/7 to everyone, everywhere
- Paid sessions are unlimited
- Some bugs on the iOS app
- Some listeners are better than others
7 Cups is another revolutionary online therapy tool. Not exclusively a therapy service, 7 Cups connects people who are suffering from emotional pain and issues with caring listeners who offer emotional support and connection. Often, people feel like there's no one to turn to. They're embarrassed about an issue, or they feel like there's just no one there for them. The 300,000+ listeners are trained to help people feel heard like there is someone in the world who cares, no matter who you are, where you are, or what you're going through.
7 Cups used to exclusively be this volunteer listener-only network for offering free support from non-professionals. But that’s not the case anymore. Understanding the need for some people to have more experienced and knowledgeable assistance, 7 Cups expanded its offerings to include confidential online therapy and counseling sessions with licensed therapists, as well.
So, if you’re just having a bad day and need a shoulder to cry on, opt for the free volunteer listeners. Alternatively, if you feel like you have a more serious mental or emotional issue that requires professional guidance, then select the licensed therapist sessions to help you work through your dilemma.
Looking for compassionate, understanding, and professional therapists to help you deal with your emotional struggles? Then, you should turn to BetterHelp. Rated one of the best online counseling services in the industry, BetterHelp is available for individuals, couples, and teens via SMS, chat, phone, and video sessions. With over 10k licensed therapists, live and on-demand sessions, and affordable prices, there’s every reason to turn to BetterHelp when your problems are getting too big to handle on your own.
Talkspace is another online counseling service that comes highly-rated by millions of users. The site offers ongoing support for real-life issues, including depression, anxiety, and addictions. Talkspace creates an open environment where people can feel comfortable opening up, asking questions, venting frustrations, and airing fears that they wouldn’t normally be able to express. And what’s more, Talkspace partners with several insurance providers, including Alliant, Cigna, and more.
Online-Therapy is a radically different approach to telehealth and counseling, in general. It uses a cognitive behavioral therapy method to help empower and motivate people to live happier, more productive lives. Online-Therapy was developed to help people identify challenging and dysfunctional thoughts, behaviors, patterns, and emotions. And then, together with licensed professionals, patients can work through and overcome even long-standing issues.
ReGain is an online therapy service that is primarily focused on helping people create and regain healthy, respectful, and loving relationships. Ideal for couples and individuals, ReGain guides people towards healthier solutions with regards to relationship challenges and roadblocks. Using an open and discreet forum, ReGain provides a supportive platform where couples can get the help they need to weather the storms of relationship issues successfully.
HealthSapiens offers affordable online counseling with monthly subscriptions that are significantly cheaper than traditional therapy sessions. Get multiple sessions every month, 24/7 access for immediate support and crisis intervention, and no hourly or per-visit fees. Utilize unlimited pre-clinical sessions with Master’s level counselors or therapists as well as schedule sessions with professional counselors. HealthSapiens helps people suffering from a wide range of conditions, including anxiety, grief, PTSD, relationship issues, insomnia, mood disorders, and more.
Using Your Insurance to Cover the Costs of Online Therapy
If your insurance provider does cover telehealthcare services, it will generally be in one of two ways:
This is the easy street option. The online therapy service accepts your insurance plan. Your insurance provider covers online therapy. And all is good in the world.
Some insurance companies out there will cover the cost of online therapy through reimbursements. This means you will have to pay out of pocket for the sessions, but the insurance company will pay you back for your expenses. In this case, you'll need to make a claim to your insurance company, and two things must be noted here:
- Make sure that you have all of the proper documentation needed to make an insurance claim. Different insurance providers will require different documents. So, check with your policy to see what you need beforehand and then make sure you have those documents when submitting your claim. Documents can include receipts, online therapy license, or more.
- Some insurance companies are still figuring out their own policies. So, your claim for reimbursement may be denied even though it states in your policy that it's covered. If this happens to you, you will need to appeal the decision.
And when all else fails, there is still hope. While there are no free licensed therapists online, many online therapists offer a sliding scale pricing structure to help those who don’t have insurance coverage and can’t afford out of pocket sessions. You can get discounts, reduced rates on bundled sessions, and payment plans. Bottom line, money shouldn’t be what stops you from getting the help you (deserve and) need.
Choosing the Right Service That Suits Your Insurance Needs
To get the most out of your insurance coverage for online therapy, be sure to follow a few simple guidelines, including:
Read the details
Obviously, the first step in finding the right service is checking to see if they accept your insurance coverage. Some online therapists do accept medical insurance, while others do not. Among those that don’t, many will advocate for you on your behalf to the insurance company to help you get some form of compensation.
On the other hand, you may not want to limit yourself to only services that take your insurance policy. Online therapy costs significantly less than traditional therapy. So much so that it may be fine for you to just pay out of pocket for your sessions. If that's the case, you'll have a lot more options and a much easier process of selecting a quality therapist to help you with your questions.
Find the communication method that you’re comfortable with
Therapy is a personal process and one that you need to be comfortable with throughout. So, you’ll want to find an online therapist that offers the type of communication method you can feel comfortable opening up and speaking about personal matters through. Most people feel that video chats are the closest thing to traditional therapy, and it’s nice to be able to see the therapist face-to-face. On the other hand, many patients prefer the open forum of an SMS chat. It gives you the flexibility to jot down thoughts and questions at the time when you first think of them. Texting also allows you to formulate your ideas instead of having to answer on the spot.