I’ve started a series answering questions on the cost of mental health. I firmly and passionately believe that every single person has a right to mental health care that fits their individual needs and is affordable, AND ALSO therapists and other mental health professionals deserve to be paid appropriately for their time. I spoke before about how health insurance works when you are seeing a therapist, and I’d like to explore some other options people can use to access mental health care. Today I am going to speak to Employee Assistant Programs.
EAPs are programs through your employer that will cover a limited number of therapy sessions or other mental health services. If you have a high-deductible insurance plan, you might be able to get a few sessions at no cost to you through your employer’s EAP.
There are huge benefits to using your EAP:
- It’s free. Who doesn’t like free?
- Your sessions aren’t billed through insurance, so if you are given a diagnosis, your insurance will not see it.
- The EAP provider can help you connect with someone who has availability.
- You know going in how many sessions you get and do not have to worry about authorization or getting a surprise bill.
Of course, there are also drawbacks:
- Because you get a set number of sessions, EAPs can be useful for solution-focused work or working through adjustment issues or stress. But if you need more long-term care, they run out quickly.
- If you decide to continue sessions after your EAP runs out, your EAP-approved therapist might not be covered by your insurance, so you might have to switch therapists or pay out of pocket.
- EAPs offer notoriously low reimbursement rates, so many therapists will not accept them.
It is worth asking if your employer offers this service, as this can help people with high-deductible insurance plans get their foot in the door with mental health services.
What else do you wish you knew about the cost of mental health services? Ask me and I will try to find the answer!