As therapists, we believe therapy should be financially accessible to everyone. Unfortunately, many people struggle to find affordable therapy options in their area. In fact, two of the most common questions we hear from potential new clients are Can I pay for therapy out of pocket? and Can I get therapy without insurance?
People are feeling financial constrictions all across the country. A 2022 report from Verywell Mind found that about a third of individuals who discontinued therapy that year did so because of high costs. In addition, about 40% say they require financial assistance to continue their therapy sessions.
Just as scary, 42% of adults with mental illness say they’re unable to receive the care they need because they simply can’t afford it, according to Mental Health America.
Fortunately, therapy can be quite affordable, even if you decide to self-pay.
Skip to the most relevant section below to learn more:
Yes, you absolutely can! Every therapist will have different rates and requirements for patients who decide to self-pay, but most offices accept cash or card instead of insurance.
In some instances, it can even be beneficial to get therapy without insurance.
Here are a few times when it could actually be preferable to self-pay for therapy:
1. You don’t have insurance. Lacking insurance does not mean you’re ineligible for therapy. In fact, therapy could be more affordable than you think. Paying out of pocket may be only $50 or $75 (depending on which therapist you use and where you seek treatment)—which is less than some people pay when using their health insurance.
2. You have a high deductible. Some insurance plans have high deductibles that make it difficult to afford or access mental health services. But by paying out of pocket, you can often receive the same high level of care at a lower price!
3. You can’t wait for the insurance company to approve your request. Some insurance companies prefer to approve your treatment or therapist before covering your appointments. But if you’re in crisis, waiting isn’t always an option. Instead, you can pay out of pocket to see a qualified therapist as soon as possible.
4. You need additional privacy. Self-pay therapy doesn’t leave a paper trail of your treatments. This is especially important for individuals who want to keep their treatments secret, including:
- victims of abuse, who don’t want their abuser to know they’re seeking treatment from a trained professional
- first responders, who may not want their employer, co-workers, or colleagues to know they’re seeking help (read our blog on first responder therapy to learn more)
- military members, who may not be allowed to serve if it’s discovered that they’re receiving mental health treatments
- individuals who want to remain anonymous, like individuals who are on a family health insurance plan but don’t want their family members to know they’ve sought treatment
5. You have an HSA. A health savings account can be a powerful force for socking away financial resources for your physical and mental well-being. When it’s time to pay for your appointment, you can dip into your HSA instead of pulling money from your bank account or relying on a credit card.
6. You don’t have an HSA. If you don’t have a health savings account or a low deductible, affording therapy can feel out of reach. In this case, paying out of pocket may actually make therapy more affordable.
There are two major benefits of paying for therapy out of pocket. Those benefits include:
- Self-pay can be less expensive. If you have a high deductible, your insurance company might actually make therapy more expensive than it needs to be. Self-pay removes the “middle man” from the equation, which could lower overall costs for treatment.
- Self-pay doesn’t leave a paper trail. As we mentioned earlier, the self-pay option can be ideal for patients who want to receive therapy without anyone knowing. This can include victims of abuse (especially if they’re on their spouse’s insurance), first responders, members of the military, and others.