If you have insurance, you may be wondering, how could I possibly benefit by paying out of pocket for therapy? While this perspective is totally understandable – why pay more for something than you have to – there are several benefits to paying out of pocket instead of using insurance for therapy.
Work with the therapist you want. Insurance companies have a limited number of therapists who they will reimburse as “in network” providers, a limited number who will be reimbursed “out of network” at a lower rate, and then some who they will not reimburse at all. Finding the right therapist for you is key to your getting what you want out of therapy and if you are willing to pay out of pocket, then you can choose from a wider ray of potential therapists to work with.
Get the treatment you want. Many insurance plans come with specific guidelines for the types, frequency, and duration of treatment that they will pay for, regardless of your needs and desires as a client. If you are willing to pay out of pocket, you can work with your therapist to determine the kind, frequency, and duration of therapy that makes the most sense for you to achieve your goals.
Work on the issues that you want to work on. Many insurance companies will only pay for treatment of a limited range of pre-defined issues and/or diagnoses. There are near infinite challenges that people can benefit from exploring in therapy, and if you are willing to pay out of pocket, you can address what is truly important to you with your therapist, even if the insurance companies wouldn’t pay for it.
Avoid being labelled. Insurance often requires that clients be given a diagnosis from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) and usually will only fund treatment for a limited number of diagnoses. Many times, the diagnoses which insurance will cover may not fit the person seeking treatment. Additionally, the value of the current diagnostic system in aiding treatment is viewed by many as dubious and at times even detrimental, as there are unfortunately some diagnoses that still carry with them a great deal of stigma and a lack of understanding, even among professionals. When paying out of pocket, no diagnosis is required to be in treatment.
Invest in yourself. When you pay out of pocket, rather than using your insurance, you are making a greater financial investment in yourself. Spending your hard earned money on the difficult and rewarding challenge of personal growth sends a message to yourself that you and your goals matter.
While it is perfectly understandable that saving money by using insurance to pay for therapy is a compelling plus, particularly in these times which can be trying for many economically, there are some limitations to what insurance companies will enable you to do. Because of these limitations, it may be worth considering the positives of paying for therapy out of pocket. When you pay out of pocket, you have the freedom to get the therapy you want, with the therapist you want, while avoiding some of the less than positive requirements of insurance policies. At the same time, when you put your money towards what you really value, you send yourself a powerful message.