Mental Health in Our Health Insurance System

This month, I have been feeling very frustrated. Not because of the additional stress of online college classes, not because of the impending job search after graduation, and not because of interpersonal issues with family. I am feeling frustrated because of my health insurance.

Because I am 24 years old and in college, I am still on my parents’ health insurance plan. I’m really grateful to my parents that I am able to do this. We have great coverage, and I have been able to get low-cost mental health treatment for many years. But my mom recently got a new job, and because of that, our health insurance is switching from one major provider to another one. When I brought this up to my therapist last week, I didn’t think it would be an issue because I knew that her office accepts both insurance companies. However, I didn’t realize that because she is a licensed social worker, she can only accept a certain number of health insurance companies, and my new insurance is not one of them.

I have been seeing this same therapist for over six months now, and I feel like I am making great progress with her. I rely on seeing her every Friday to stay motivated and check in on how my week has been. She has also referred me to a new psychiatrist to get my medications under control, and working with the two of them together has made me feel much more emotionally stable from day to day. But now because of my new insurance plan, I have to make a difficult choice between staying with my current therapist and paying out-of-pocket for our sessions, or leaving my therapist and trying to find a new one who accepts my insurance.

I haven’t decided yet what I am going to do. It is painful to think about giving up the strong relationship that I have with my current therapist, and I think that my mental health would suffer after leaving. But paying out-of-pocket for our sessions would be a huge financial strain. I would probably have to space out my sessions to once every two weeks or once a month, and at that point, would I even get the benefits of therapy? I also know how difficult it is to find a new therapist and establish a relationship with them. I have gone through the process many times, from moving to new places and going away for college. I wasn’t anticipating an interruption in my care, but because my insurance is switching over next week, I need to make a decision soon.

This dilemma is making me feel so frustrated because I believe that healthcare is a human right, and that includes mental health care. It is so disheartening to see that our health insurance system is structured in a way that prioritizes physical health over mental health. I know that I am not alone in feeling this way, and I have found it helpful to talk with friends about this and discuss my options. But I still feel that no one should have to make the decision between their health and their finances.

Does your health insurance cover mental health? Have you ever faced any barriers to finding or staying with a therapist because of your health insurance or other finances?

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