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My current fee structure for psychotherapeutic services is:

  • Initial Consultation: $180 (60 minutes)
  • Individual Psychotherapy: $140 (45 minutes) to $165 (55 minutes)
  • Couple and Family Therapy: $140 (45-50 minutes)
  • Other charges can be incurred for incidental activities requiring significant time (e.g., extensive phone contacts).

I am on the provider panel for Blue Cross/Blue Shield Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) Network and Medicare Please note that I am NOT an in-network provider for Blue Cross/Blue Shield's "Blue Choice PPO" plan.  They are in the process of creating a separate network for this product, and I have at this time chosen not to participate

Currently I am able to accept check,cash, and credit card.  You are responsible for payment or co-payment at the time services are rendered. 

24-hour cancellation policy:  Please note that it is expected that if you cannot use your appointment time, you should notify me as soon as possible.  If you do so with less than 24 hours notice or you do not come to your appointment, I reserve the right to charge you a missed appointment fee.  This can be up to the cost of an individual therapy session.  However, I do consider extenuating circumstances and your attendance history in deciding whether or not to assess a fee. 

Potential Questions:

Why can't you waive my co-payment?  When you choose to use your insurance, they expect you to pay a certain amount or certain percentage of what is billed or what is "allowable."  If I do not charge you the portion that they expect you to pay, then the company construes this as my telling them my fee is "X" when my fee is really "X minus your portion."  The company sees this as fraud. 

Why don't you participate on my HMO panel?  I firmly believe that the best treatment that I can provide occurs when you and I are able to decide together what is in your best interest.  Unfortunately, many Health Management Organizations (HMO's) insert themselves into this process in a way that I believe can be destructive and undermining of the therapy.  Further, it is quite common for an HMO to require a lot of additional paperwork and extra time on the phone trying to get additional sessions authorized, appealing a decision that your treatment is not "medically necessary," or attempting to correct a billing error.  In addition to that being lost time that takes away from my ability to work with clients, I find the process frustrating. 

I think I would like to come and see you, but you are not on my insurance panel.  Is there something that we can work out?  Typically.  There are a few ways to view this.  I will attempt to address each of them below:

  • If you want to use your insurance benefits, then you have to find out from them whether or not they will reimburse for "out of network" services.  If they do, then you will want to find out how they calculate what is reimbursed and what you have to do in order to make a claim.  In these cases, you pay for the service at the time it is rendered and I provide you with the paperwork you need to make a claim.  The insurance company should reimburse you and not me (because you will have already paid me). 
  • If your insurance company does not reimburse for out of network claims (or your insurance benefits are exhausted for the year, or you do not wish to use insurance), then we can negotiate a fee. 

Therapy isn't cheap!  You are right, though these fees are about standard for a doctoral psychologist in private practice in the northwestern suburbs.  There is so much to say about this.  Below is a brief article written by Dr. Ivan Miller, a psychologist from Colorado.  I believe he captures the value of psychotherapy extremely well.

Is Therapy a Wise Way to Spend Your Money?
2001 by Ivan J. Miller, Ph.D. (published with permission of the author)

When people have a need for therapy, they often gain so much financial benefit that therapy becomes a wise use of their time and money. Many research studies show that therapy can reduce future medical expenses. Because so many long-term health care expenses are a result of stress or untreated mental health conditions, proper mental health treatment greatly lowers the overall cost of health care. In fact, this "medical cost offset" is so large that when medical costs are measured over a period of three to five years after treatment, psychotherapy lowers overall health care costs so much that it would more than pay for the cost of the therapy.

Therapy can also improve a person's performance on the job. Employers are becoming increasingly aware that mental health problems can increase the number of sick days, interfere with the quality of an employee's work, and decrease an employee's productivity. The financial benefits of treatment are so great that many employers have hired employee assistance programs to provide short-term therapy and identify employees who can benefit from longer-term therapy. Executives and some other people are now using a form of psychotherapy - coaching - to improve their effectiveness and performance. Moreover, psychotherapy helps many individuals succeed in gaining promotions or become ready to change to a better job.

Problems with relationships and family issues can be very expensive. There are enormous costs that can result from divorce, child adjustment problems, or other relationship problems. Individual and family therapy can go a long way in averting these costs.

So how should you decide if therapy is a wise use of your money? Of course, individuals are different and need to decide this for themselves by making some educated guesses. To figure this out for yourself, try to estimate the total cost of your therapy and compare it to the long-term benefits. You can ask your therapist to help by estimating how long it might take to accomplish the kind of changes that you hope to make in therapy. Use this information to estimate the cost of therapy.

To estimate the financial benefits, consider the changes that you are making in stress levels that may affect your long-term health care costs. Look at whether the therapy is helping you be a more productive employee or enabling you to earn more money through promotions or by changing jobs. Look at the relationship and family problems that you are working on in therapy and evaluate if the therapy is likely to avert expensive problems in the future.

When you estimate the cost/benefit ratio, remember your personal improvements may yield financial benefits over many years to come, and the therapy costs are usually spent up front. If you are like most people, as long as there is a need for treatment, you will find that the potential financial benefits probably justify the investment in psychotherapy even when insurance does not pay for the treatment. In addition, think about the possible intangible improvements in your quality of life that cannot be measured financially.

 

 
  2006: Mitchell W. Hicks, PhD.  All Rights Reserved.