Frequently asked questions
If you're like me, you want to learn what you can about things before you dive in. Here are some questions my clients ask, and my brief-ish answers. If you need more information from me, clarification, or have questions I haven't addressed here, please do give me a call or email me for a free 15 minute phone consultation.
Do you take my insurance?
The answer to this simple question is actually pretty complex. At the time I am writing this, there are approximately 35 health insurance companies in the US, and each of those has a variety of unique plans. Then each of those plans either covers behavioral health (counseling), contracts out the coverage to another company, or doesn't provide coverage. Further, you may have an HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) or a PPO (Preferred Provider Option) with out-of-network coverage. An HMO typically requires you to have a primary care doctor who would refer you to a counselor. I have not contracted with any HMOs, meaning that barring some emergency, your insurance would not pay you for seeing me. If you have a PPO that includes behavioral health (counseling) you may see any counselor you like without a referral. You will, however, likely need to pay up front and wait for your insurance company to reimburse you.
The best person to ask about your insurance is your insurance company. If you want to use your insurance, you'll want to call the number on the back of your card and make sure you have behavioral health coverage. Here are some additional questions for you to ask your insurance:
1. Do I have out-of-network coverage?
2. For which diagnoses do you reimburse, and how much of my protected health information must my counselor share with you? If you want to use insurance, I will need to give you a diagnosis that fits your symptoms, and your insurance will need to cover that diagnosis. Then, the insurance company may request information from me about your diagnosis, treatment plan, progress, etc.
3. For which provider license types do you reimburse? I have a Master of Social Work and hold the Washington State designation of Licensed Independent Clinical Social Work Associate (LICSWA), with license # SC60491739.
4. Do I have a deductible, maximum yearly or lifetime limit, or copay amount? Your yearly deductible needs to be paid before your insurance company will reimburse you. You might have one deductible for all covered benefits or you might have a separate deductible for counseling. Some companies limit the amount of money they will reimburse you per year or per life (goofy huh?). Your copay is the per session amount your insurance company expects you to pay off the top before they consider the percentage they will reimburse you.
5. Do I have a maximum yearly or lifetime session number limit? Some companies limit the number of counseling sessions they will allow per year or per life (goofy again, huh?).
6. When you reimburse, will you reimburse me the full amount? If not, what percentage will you reimburse? See question 4 above
7. How long will it take you to reimburse me? In my experience some companies can take more than one year to reimburse so you'll want to find out when to expect it.
In any case, I'm happy to help you navigate, if you choose to go this route. You would pay me at the start of each session and I will provide you with a monthly form that you submit to your insurance company. They use that form to make sure your diagnosis and treatment are covered and at what rate so they can reimburse you. If you have PPO and I am out of network, you may be reimbursed at a lower rate, so it's important to know this up front.
Counseling is a large investment so you'll want to call them to find out ahead of time just how large. It's important that I be a good fit for you, financially as well as emotionally, personality-wise, and so on.
What if I need help getting reimbursed from my insurance company?
Well, funny you should ask. There is a new app, with great people behind it, that helps with reimbursements. The app is called Better and can be found on their site at Better: Health Insurance Claims Made Simple. I don't necessarily endorse them over anyone else, and I am not affiliated with them (so I get no cut for posting about their potential awesomeness) but so far I've heard great things. Check them out if you're interested.
How much will counseling cost me?
This also is not as black and white as it seems. My standard fee is $175 per 50-minute session. This per-session cost may be higher or lower than others' per-session costs, which is not the same as a per-goal or per-issue cost.
The overall investment is the bigger picture, and I find that I work very effectively like this:
The first few sessions are about understanding each other, building trust and our relationship, and putting together your treatment plan. This plan will have specific goals we'll work on every week, until you meet them. Along the way we'll keep checking to make sure you are making good progress, and if not, we'll discuss digging deeper faster, slowing down, shifting focus, re-prioritizing other goals you have, depending on what you want and need.
In this way, we work, as they say, "smarter not harder." Don't get me wrong, counseling is work. But it's good work and usually we can come up with one or two key things that when they're better (if you work hard and I work hard), everything else seems easier to do. This may mean you spend more per session, working hard, and need fewer sessions, cutting the lifelong investment a bit.
Do you see families?
I see families in the context of healing children and teens. If you look at my page on Children, you can read more about this.