Practice Building: Should I Take Insurance or Only Self-Pay Clients

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Graduate psychology programs teach you many things. You learn the difference between a Rorschach and a TAT, and how to conceptualize a case from a systemic perspective, a cognitive behavioral approach, a psychoanalytic viewpoint, a Gestalt shape, and every other framework in the book. However, what you don’t learn is how to run a business.

This is unfortunate, because if you are in private practice, you essentially have two jobs. One, of course, is providing quality care to your patients; the other, is managing all of the practical aspects of running a successful company. Sure, there are some tasks that can, and should, be outsourced to assistants and other professionals, but, only you will make the big decisions about how your operation should run, and that can feel like a huge weight on your shoulders.

Not to worry! Therapy Hive is here to help!

Since one of the biggest decisions that practitioners in private practice have to make is whether or not to take insurance as a form of payment, we’ve decided to break it down for you to help you think about the pros and cons of this major issue.

Let’s start with the Pros.

Good Exposure

Especially, if you are just starting out, getting on insurance plans as a provider can be a wonderful source of referrals. Clients can easily find your name and information in their plan’s provider list, and most companies even let you name your specialties and areas of interest.

More Affordable For Clients

While co-pays vary wildly, they generally don’t come close to a full session fee. This will allow you to see clients that wouldn’t be able to come to therapy otherwise.

Now, let’s explore the Cons.

Issues With Confidentiality

When clients use their insurance for therapy, we are required to provide their diagnoses, and, sometimes, their session notes to said companies. Since clients often get insurance through their employers, this means that their employers may ask to see this information. Opting for private pay keeps clients’ information 100% confidential.

So. Much. Paperwork

Many insurance companies require loads of paperwork in order to get reimbursed. This can be time consuming if you are filling out the paperwork yourself, and costly, if you hire someone else to do it. In the end, you might be better off offering a sliding scale fee to your clients, so that you don’t have to deal with this hassle.

Less Control Over Treatment Planning

If your client uses insurance, you will be subject to the insurance companies’ decisions regarding whether your client needs additional treatment, and which type of treatment is deemed appropriate. Sadly, these decisions are often made with cost, rather than care, in mind.

Still not sure whether to take insurance? Some therapists choose a middle ground approach which can work for clients with out of network benefits. If you do this, you will fill out one form, which the client then submits to their insurance company for reimbursement. However, the client will pay you directly for your services.

If you’d like to talk more about the pros and cons of taking insurance, or how Therapy Hive can help you build your business, contact us!

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