Q: Does Medicare cover therapy services?

A: Medicare Part B does cover therapy services and other mental health outpatient services. Individual and group psychotherapy with approved licensed professionals is covered. In addition, psychiatric evaluation, medication management, family counseling (if important to help with your treatment), depression screening, and more are part of the Medicare Part B coverage.

You will pay 20% of the Medicare approved amount after your meet your deductible, just like for other services. Of course, if you have any supplemental insurance plan that may change or lessen what you owe. Your doctor or therapist may recommend more sessions than Medicare covers, or they may not accept the Medicare rate, in which case you will be responsible for the additional costs.

You should talk over the payment with the service provider office before scheduling any appointments so you can be prepared with understanding your costs. Mental health services are invaluable, but you also need to be sure that they fit with your budget so they do not add to your stress.

Therapy can be a useful tool to build your resilience and allow you space to process and understand yourself better.  It can help motivate you to make positive changes in your life, or hep you through a difficult health diagnosis, caregiver role, or adjust to a transition to retirement.

There are many different reasons someone decides to enter into therapy. Some use it off and on their entire life as a tool to guide them through life’s challenges. Some may try it for the first time in retirement because they finally have the time and value their own mental wellness. Whatever the reason, when someone seeks therapy services, they are making a commitment to themselves and to their future.

Therapy can help you change your mindset and see more optimism in life. It can give you space to process difficult things and create a vision for your future. You are never too old to be able to make positive changes in your life and reduce your daily stress.

You will want to find a therapist who fits for your needs and your personality. You may want to ask trusted friends or professionals for referrals. Most providers will allow a free phone consultation to get to know them before deciding if they are the right therapist for you. They can explain their method and philosophy, and you can see if you find them easy to talk to. Even if you start therapy with someone you always have the option to change providers at any time.

The outlook on mental health care is shifting in our country, and more and more people are seeing how beneficial and important it is for quality of life. No one should be afraid or embarrassed to reach out for help and support. To make it easier, Congress has designated a new emergency number for anyone feeling suicidal. Now you can simply dial 988 from anywhere for help. This number is operated through the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This is a huge step in showing our community that mental health care deserves to be accessible with an immediate response when needed.

To anyone seeking therapy services, know that help is out there. Start your search as early as possible and do not wait until it is a mental health emergency. Some therapists may have waiting lists, and this can be very frustrating. However, keep looking and do not give up. Your mental wellness deserves care just as your physical wellness does. Your whole body is connected, and it deserves the best care and support you can find.

Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at mshapiro@seniorconcerns.org.


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