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BetterHelp is an online subscription service offering virtual therapy sessions. The company does not accept insurance, and most private medical insurers do not cover the costs. However, a person may be eligible for reduced rates if they have a low income.
This article describes BetterHelp and the costs involved. It also explores affordable options and provides tips for people who may need immediate help.
BetterHelp is an online therapy platform that connects people with licensed therapists who hold a master’s or doctoral degree in their field. The company claims that its therapists also have a minimum of 3 years and 1,000 hours of experience.
The therapists are available to help adults, couples, and teenagers who may be experiencing various difficulties or mental health conditions, including:
Anyone interested in using BetterHelp needs to fill in a multiple-choice questionnaire that enables the company to match them with a therapist. A person attends virtual sessions via their computer, tablet, or smartphone, and they can request to change their therapist at any time.
BetterHelp states that its therapy sessions are confidential, as are all therapy sessions, and users can remove messages from their accounts.
Who may not benefit from BetterHelp’s services?
The company says that its therapy sessions are not suitable for people who:
- have thoughts of suicide, self-harm, or harming others
- require emergency care
- require psychological hospitalization
The Better Business Bureau gives the company a 4.15 out of 5 rating and an A grade. Reviewers note that the online platform is convenient for people who cannot attend in-person visits.
Trustpilot gives BetterHelp a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5.
Positive reviews appreciate the ability to request a different therapist and the convenience in scheduling sessions.
A few less favorable reviews note delays in receiving messages. Others report that the company did not connect them with a licensed therapist.
BetterHelp is a subscription service. As of March 2022, the cost was $60–90 per week, billed every 4 weeks.
The company offers reduced-cost subscriptions to people who are unemployed, have a low income, or are otherwise experiencing financial difficulties.
A person shares this information, and can describe their financial situation, on the initial questionnaire. If the company grants financial aid, a person must reapply for it every 3 months.
However, insurance coverage for in-person mental health services varies widely, depending on the insurance provider, insurance plan, and location. To confirm coverage, contact the insurance company directly, as it may reimburse some costs of other services.
How to learn about mental health coverage
The American Psychological Association recommends checking the insurance plan’s table of benefits to learn about coverage for mental health services. A person can also contact the insurance provider directly.
If a person has insurance through their employer, they can ask their human resources department about the benefits.
Some out-of-pocket costs may still apply, even if the plan covers mental health services. Make sure to ask about the deductible — the amount that a person pays before the insurance company provides any coverage.
How to find a therapist that an insurance plan covers
Most insurance providers have a list of in-network or participating healthcare professionals.
Alternately, a person can call a healthcare professional or check their website to establish whether they work with certain insurers.
Databases such as the American Psychological Association’s Psychologist Locator and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy’s Therapist Locator may also help.
What is the deductible for BetterHelp?
BetterHelp and the therapists on the platform cannot submit claims to insurance companies. This means that there is no insurance coverage, and so no deductible.
The options below are either free or likely more affordable:
- Support groups. These focus on a particular mental health condition, such as addiction, depression, or anxiety. A licensed mental health professional facilitates the sessions, and the people in the group share their experiences. For example, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers a family support group, hosting weekly or monthly sessions. These are available in Spanish, as well.
- Sliding scale therapists. This means that the fee depends on an individual’s income. When looking for a therapist, a person might ask if they offer sliding scale rates.
- College mental health services. Some universities and colleges offer free or reduced-cost counseling for students. These services are often limited to a certain number of sessions.
- Community mental health centers. These offer free and low-cost sessions. The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)can help a person find a mental health center near them.
A mental health crisis is a situation in which there is a significant chance that a person might harm themselves or others and cannot safely care for themselves.
According to Mind, a mental health organization based in the United Kingdom, a person might experience a crisis due to:
- addiction or substance abuse
- school or work stress
- relationship stress
- financial or housing difficulties
- struggles with a mental health diagnosis
- the loss of a loved one
NAMI reports that signs of a mental health crisis may include:
- difficulty finishing tasks such as bathing, getting out of bed, and changing clothes
- increased agitation
- verbal threats
- property destruction
- rapid mood changes
- psychosis and losing touch with reality
- inability to recognize family and friends
- increased substance use
- withdrawal from loved ones and activities
- challenges managing stress
NAMI recommends that a person call their therapist or psychiatrist if they believe that they are experiencing a mental health crisis but are not in immediate danger. The mental health professional can evaluate the situation and determine the best course of action.
But anyone in a potentially life threatening situation should call 911 or their local emergency number, or go to the nearest emergency room. The staff will connect the person with a mental health professional who can assess the risk and need for support.
If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
- Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
- Listen to the person without judgment.
- Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
- Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day at 800-273-8255. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 800-273-8255.
Below, find answers to common questions about BetterHelp’s services.
What insurance does BetterHelp take?
BetterHelp does not take insurance, including Medicare or Medicaid.
While the company claims that its services typically cost less or about as much as in-office visits, insurance coverage for in-person therapy and counseling varies widely. Anyone with insurance should contact their insurance provider to learn about their coverage.
Who should use BetterHelp?
The company’s therapists can help with anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and relationship challenges.
The service is not suitable for anyone who is experiencing severe symptoms or thoughts of harming themselves or others. It is not suitable for anyone who requires urgent care, such as hospitalization.
Is BetterHelp HSA-eligible?
An insurance provider can confirm which medical expenses qualify for use with a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA). BetterHelp does list HSA and FSA accounts as payment options.
BetterHelp is an online platform that offers therapy sessions for adults, couples, and teenagers. It’s a subscription service, and there are reduced rates for people with low incomes or other financial difficulties.
The company does not accept health insurance. It says that its services cost less or about as much as in-person visits. However, insurance coverage for in-office mental health services varies widely.
Low-cost mental health services may be available, such as support groups and sliding scale therapy.