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Controlling Mental Health Costs

Each year, about 26 percent of adults in the United States suffer from a mental health disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The most common mental health disorders are anxiety, substance abuse, and depression.

Mental health care can be expensive even for people with health insurance. Medications for these conditions are costly, and many therapists charge $120 an hour or more per counseling session.

These suggestions can help control your mental health care costs while you get the help you need:

  • Check your coverage. Health insurance companies vary in their coverage of mental health. Some plans cover everything except the copay per session once a deductible is met. Other plans place dollar limits on outpatient programs, but leave inpatient programs intact, or they limit the type and extent of mental health treatment they'll pay for by limiting the amount of money they'll pay to providers. Knowing what to expect ahead of time can help you plan your finances.

  • Choose a provider who's in your network. Out-of-network providers can cost substantially more.

  • Ask for a price break. Some therapists offer a sliding-scale fee schedule for patients based on income.

  • Investigate your community's mental health centers. Local governments often fund public resources, such as community mental health centers.

  • Consider group therapy. Group sessions usually cost far less than individual therapy.

  • Try complementary therapies. Yoga, meditation, massage, and other alternative therapies may provide relief for stress-related conditions.

To reduce the amount you pay for prescription drugs:

  • Ask your health care provider if you can switch to a lower-cost generic or a less expensive brand.

  • Ask your health care provider for samples of the drugs you take.

  • Check out mail-order and online pharmacies. Sometimes these pharmacies can fill your prescription at a substantial savings. Be sure to check a company's reputation and service guarantees before using your credit card.

Finally, find out if your company has an employee assistance program. Mental health help may be available on site or through an associated provider at no cost to you.