One of the barriers to getting mental health support or treatment is the uncertainty of the cost. Your friendly, neighborhood EAP Counselors understand this concern and can help you navigate your options for counseling and mental health services. You can reach out to us with a request to schedule an appointment to talk through your needs. In addition, we wanted to share some ways that you can lower your costs:
Counseling with MD Live (It's Free)
With your UT Select insurance, you have access to the MD Live telehealth platform. You can select a therapist and often schedule from the platform. While your insurance is billed for the service, the copay is waived so you pay $0 (so make sure to include your insurance information when you set up an account). There is not a limit on the number of sessions, so that is free and ongoing counseling for you and family members who are on your UT Select plans. Some of the counselors see teenagers as well. To create an account, go to https://members.mdlive.com/bcbstx/landing_home
MD Live for Psychiatry (It's All Free)
MD Live also has an option for appointments with a psychiatrist who can schedule non-emergency appointments and see you or your family member on an ongoing basis. Again, to create an account: https://members.mdlive.com/bcbstx/landing_home
UT Select BCBS PPO Insurance (In-Network)
The UT Select BCBS PPO insurance plan has in-network benefits that you can use. When you select a therapist who is in-network, you will pay a copay. The copay is usually $30 (on rare occasions it will be $50). Psychiatric care or medication management is normally a copay of $50 per appointment.
UT Select BCBS PPO Insurance (Out-Of-Network)
The UT Select BCBS PPO insurance plan has out-of-network benefits that you can use. If you work with a provider who is not in-network with BCBS PPO, here are steps you can take to apply for reimbursement of some of the costs:
- The Information about Out-of-Network (OON) benefits through UT Health Select: https://www.bcbstx.com/ut/pdf/sbc-ppo-2021.pdf
- A chart that describes benefits starts on page 4, behavioral health starts on page 6.
- After the deductible for an individual of $1800 is met, UT Select pays 60% of the maximum allowable charge. (The maximum allowable charge is around $88-100)
- So when seeing a therapist utilizing OON benefits, you would ask the therapist for a SuperBill each month, submit the SuperBill and the OON Claim form to BCBS. (see attached for the OON claim form)
- BCBS will review the two forms and evaluate if the services are medically necessary.
- Once BCBS determines the services are medically necessary they will apply the claims towards the deductible. When the deductible is met, BCBS will write a check reimbursing for the 60% of the maximum charge.
- The UT Health Select Advocates at 1-866-882-2034 are really helpful for any questions regarding OON benefits.
Flexible Spending Account
When you start employment or during open enrollment, you can decide how much to put into a Flexible Savings Account (FSA) for the year. Benefits-eligible active employees may enroll in UT FLEX flexible spending accounts.
FSAs allow you to set aside money from your earnings before taxes are withheld to put into an account used to pay certain out-of-pocket health care expenses with the Health Care Reimbursement Account (HCRA). This reduces the amount you pay in taxes and increases your spendable income. If you are enrolled in the HCRA, you also have the added convenience of the UT FLEX Debit Card to pay for eligible expenses at the point of service.
Ask About Sliding Scale Rates and Therapist-In-Training
If you are reaching out to an individual therapist, a group practice, or an agency that provides therapy, ask if they have options to pay on a sliding scale or if there are therapists-in-training that you can see. Sliding scale means that the rates for counseling sessions is discounted from the full fee, often based on one’s income or by what someone can pay. If a practice or agency has post-graduate interns who are working towards their hours of sessions to complete their license, the rate per session is often lower than therapists who have completed their advanced license requirements.
Just Mind has compiled a list of agencies and practices who offer reduced fees or sliding scale fees: https://justmind.org/affordable-counseling-in-austin/
Group therapy is usually weekly, can be ongoing or time-limited, and costs around $40 to $70 per session. Some groups may be for a specific topic or population such as a gay men’s therapy group or a caregivers support group; other groups are for helping participants learn more about themselves and their relationships with others and may be broader in the population and issues discussed. Group therapy is beneficial in increasing social connectedness, not feeling alone in one’s struggles, getting feedback and perspectives from others, and trying new interpersonal skills.
The Austin community also has lower cost groups such as grief counseling at The Christi Center; there are also free 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
If you want to meet with a therapist on a short-term basis or get guidance about finding mental health services, you can schedule with a counselor at the EAP by calling 512-471-3366 or emailing email@example.com.