Online therapy was always a more affordable alternative to face-to-face treatments, even when insurance wasn’t involved. The recent pandemic proved virtual therapy is extremely useful and here to stay, and has encouraged many insurance companies to incorporate it in their plans.
This makes the online therapy platforms which accept insurance stand out – they can help you dramatically reduce costs while still providing the necessary treatment you need. That said, there is a reason why many sites still do not offer insurance to their clients. It requires going through a lot of bureaucracy and most importantly, prevents the user from remaining completely anonymous.
This article will help you figure out whether you should start online therapy while using insurance or not. We’ll highlight the best online therapy providers that accept insurance, how to make sure you are actually covered, and what are the major pros and cons to each service.
Talkspace is a household name and widely considered among the best online therapy providers in the U.S. That is even more so the case if you need to use your insurance for online therapy, since Betterhelp – their main competitor – does not offer this option at all.
If you’re curious, our Talkspace vs. Betterhelp comparison explains why even without insurance, we still feel Betterhelp has the overall edge.
According to Talkspace, nearly 90% of their clients benefit from some sort of insurance while using the site. Talkspace is partnered with several large insurance networks such as Alliant, Cigna, Humana and more, but is currently not available through Medicaid or Medicare.
Talkspace’s therapy plans are all subscription based and cost between $260 and $396 a month. Psychiatric care and medication are also available, but billed separately. With insurance, Talkspace states that all of your costs might be covered – but this actually depends on the plan you choose, your insurance provider and the state you live in.
Based on our research, you should expect to pay somewhere between $100 and $150 a month for using Talkspace with insurance.
Whenever we compare and review online therapy platforms, Amwell is always at the top, especially when it comes to working with insurance companies. Being one of the largest telehealth providers in the country (not just online therapy) helps a lot, and the process with Amwaell is also much more streamlined and users don’t have to deal with any bureaucracy.
Amwell works with the largest number of insurance networks, and also accepts Medicaid and Medicare. When you sign up, you’ll need to provide the relevant information, and then all your future billings will be automatically based on your copay.
Online therapy at Amwell isn’t through a subscription plan but rather a pay-per-meet module. Each therapy session costs between $99 and $119 depending which psychologist you choose and the state you live in. With insurance, clients can expect to pay roughly half that price.
If you are looking for couples therapy or marriage counseling, you probably know these are usually not covered by insurance. That said, Amwell does cover these in some cases, so this might be your best bet at getting that type of online therapy with insurance included in it.
Cerebral is a relatively new online therapy app that aims to revolutionize the industry by making both therapy and medical prescriptions extremely affordable. They also have arguably the best software, an award-winning mobile app, and the best promo currently – offering a 70% discount on all plans for the first month.
The company certainly has a great future ahead of it, but for the meantime the limitations incurred by its size prevent us from ranking it higher on this list. Cerebral does not let you pick your own therapist, only works in 36 states and from our experience, getting matched with a therapist takes as long as a week on average.
Cerebral are in network with a fairly large selection of insurance providers, and also accept Medicaid and Medicare. This is also the best place to use your FSA / HSA cards since their support team is excellent and will help you with any reimbursement claims you might wish to file.
Without insurance, the cost of treatment is between $85 and $325 a month – depending on which subscription plan you take. In network patients will pay just $29 a month for all plans, but that doesn’t include your copay charge per session and the cost of any medication prescribed to you.
Normally when we write these comparison guides, we try and give our readers as many options to choose from as possible. However, when it comes to online therapy sites that accept insurance, we chose to feature just a handful, since these clearly stand out from the rest, and we strongly believe there’s absolutely no reason to favor any other provider over them.
To further explain why that is the case, here are the most important factors we looked at while conducting our research. These factors should also serve to guide you as you try and choose the best online therapy app to use your insurance with:
Even though online therapy with insurance can be extremely affordable, that’s not always a guarantee. Many sites say they are in-network, but in the end, you find out it only applies for very specific services or treatments, and you might get charged in full for other services you availed.
That is why it’s extremely important to not only check first directly with the therapy provider, but also with your insurance company. You need to make sure you know exactly what is covered, and what isn’t. Coverage usually depends on the therapist you choose, the type of treatment you want, and the state you live in.
It’s also worth noting that even with full coverage, online therapy sites that accept insurance might still not be the cheapest option. Read our guide to affordable therapy to see how they compare to the cheapest therapy plans online, or our Rethink My Therapy review – the most affordable online therapy site in 2023.
Another thing to keep in mind is how each company intends to bill you. Some providers ask for your copayment after each session, while others bill you once a month. With some companies, you might also have to pay in full, get an invoice from them, then file with your insurance provider for reimbursement. The companies we recommend all take care of the whole process for you, providing they are in-network with your preferred insurance provider.
Customer support is always important for any virtual therapy service we pay for, but much more so when insurance is involved. When we review online therapy platforms, the most common user complaint is their mishandling of insurance claims and having a far too complicated and cumbersome process for reimbursements.
Another common issue occurs when a patient tries to contact support to find out whether they are eligible for coverage or not. Oftentimes, you’ll get inaccurate or misleading information, which might cost you money in the future.
Amwell and Talkspace are large, reputable companies and their process for using insurance is streamlined, efficient and mostly automated. Cerebral, on the other hand, is a small company with excellent customer service which employs a personal approach towards clients – making it easy to get the necessary information and assistance you need.
When searching for online counseling with insurance, you have to keep in mind not all treatments will be available, or at least not covered by your insurance company. You also want to make sure the platform you go to have enough therapists on staff, and preferably allow you to choose your own therapist instead of assigning one to you by themselves.
Another thing to keep in mind is that these therapy apps offer different ways to conduct sessions. While text, call or video sessions might all be available, they are not all necessarily covered by insurance. Typically, video sessions are the safest choice, but it’s best you first ask your insurance provider about it.
While we strongly believe the therapy sites featured on this page are the best ones to use with insurance, we encourage you to also do your own research and look for alternatives. A great place to start is our online therapy reviews page, where we list and compare all the major therapy providers in the U.S.
More specifically, you should consider looking into the following companies to see if you like any of them better than our top 3 featured above:
MDLive or Doctor On Demand – Similar services to Amwell, just not as good and more pricey.
Wellnite – Good affordable service, but only works with very few insurance providers.
Talkiatry – Excellent therapy app, in network with 60+ companies, only available in New York.
If you see another online therapy app you like, you can always contact their customer support and ask if they accept insurance or not. You can also contact your insurance company and ask them what type of coverage you can get from out of network therapy providers.
Similarly to private insurance companies, Medicaid and Medicare greatly expanded their coverage of online therapy services during the pandemic. Since online counseling proved so effective, there’s a very slim chance of this new regulation being reversed in the foreseeable future.
Medicare now covers virtual therapy for all members, including the Medicare Advantage plans. For Medicaid, coverage depends on the state you currently reside at – but almost all states are now included as they continue to expand their coverage.
Online therapy sites all state in their FAQ whether they work with these programs or not. We also highlight this fact in all of our therapy reviews. You can also contact each company’s customer support and ask, or look at the Medicare and Medicaid websites for additional information.
As mentioned above, being able to use insurance doesn’t automatically mean you’ll pay less for virtual therapy. This really depends on what’s being covered and what’s not, but even if you do enjoy full coverage, you might find it still costs more when compared to the most affordable therapy sites out there.
While we do understand the importance of cutting costs as much as possible, you should never lose sight of the most important thing – making sure you get both the best value for money and the optimal care.
For example, take a look at our top pick for online therapy site – Betterhelp. While they do not offer any insurance coverage, they do have very flexible financial aid programs that can cut down costs by as much as 50%. If you are eligible for those benefits, you’ll end up paying $180 a month, which is pretty much the same as using insurance.
Another thing to keep in mind is that using insurance for online therapy is somewhat of a tradeoff. It not only limits the amount of therapy sites and treatments available to you, but also means you will have to provide these sites with much more personal information – most importantly, access to your medical records . For people who wish to stay anonymous during online therapy, we don’t recommend using insurance at all.
Lastly, even though Amwell does cover these in some cases, for the most part couples therapy, group therapy or any other specialized treatment is not accepted by insurance. If you are looking for a more specific treatment, we recommend reading our guides to find the best, most cost-effective solution: