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BetterHelp is an online subscription service offering virtual mental health therapy sessions. The company does not accept insurance, and most private medical insurers do not cover BetterHelp’s costs. However, a person may be eligible for reduced rates if they have a low income.

This article describes BetterHelp and details some expected online counseling costs. It also explores other affordable options and provides tips for people who may experience mental health crises or require 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 hands-on experience.

Therapists are available to help adults, couples, and teenagers experiencing various conditions, including:

Individuals interested in using BetterHelp’s services must complete a multiple-choice questionnaire that enables the company to provide a therapist match. A person attends virtual sessions via their computer, tablet, or smartphone, and they can request to change their therapist at any time.

Additionally, BetterHelp states that its therapy sessions are confidential, and users can remove messages from their accounts.

Who may not benefit from BetterHelp’s services?

According to BetterHelp, its therapy sessions are not suitable for individuals who:

  • have thoughts of hurting themselves or others
  • require emergency care
  • have a severe mental health condition
  • require psychological supervision or psychiatric care

Reputation

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) gives the company a 4.15 rating out of a possible 5 and an A grade. People state that the online therapy platform is convenient for those who cannot attend in-person visits.

Trustpilot gives BetterHelp a rating of 4.5 stars out of a possible 5.

Positive reviews mention that a person can request a different therapist if they find their current one unsuitable. Reviewers also say they appreciate the app’s convenience for scheduling sessions and updating journals.

However, some less favorable reviews note delays in receiving messages, as counselors may not respond promptly. Other users state that the company did not connect them with a licensed therapist.

BetterHelp costs

BetterHelp is a subscription service. As of August 2021, it costs $55–$100 per week, billed every 4 weeks.

A person can cancel the subscription if they no longer require the platform’s services.

Financial aid

The company offers financial aid, which allows a person to attend online therapy sessions at a reduced cost.

The initial questionnaire asks individuals if they are unemployed, have a low income, or are experiencing financial difficulty. They can also describe their financial situation. If the company grants financial aid, a person must reapply for it every 3 months.

Most private medical insurers, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, do not cover BetterHelp’s mental health services. However, the company states that the sessions it offers are more affordable than in-person visits.

Coverage for mental health-related services can vary dramatically depending on a person’s insurance provider, insurance plan, and location. To confirm coverage for general mental health services, a person should contact their insurance provider directly.

Mental health services are also available to those who do not have insurance. Learn more here.

How to check your insurance plan for mental health coverage

Outside of contacting an insurance provider directly, the American Psychological Association recommends that a person check their insurance plan’s table of benefits to determine coverage of mental health services.

If an individual has insurance through their employer, they can ask for confirmation of benefits from their human resources department.

Some out-of-pocket costs may apply to a person’s insurance plan if it covers mental health services. For example, they should consider whether their plan has a deductible — the amount that a person pays out of pocket before an insurance company pays any claims.

How to find a therapist covered by your insurance

Most insurance providers will offer a list of in-network or participating doctors and other healthcare professionals. A person can also call or check a specific mental healthcare professional’s website to establish whether they work with a certain insurer.

Databases such as the American Psychological Association’s Psychologist Locator and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy’s Therapist Locator can help individuals find therapists.

Other affordable therapy options include:

  • Support groups. These focus on a particular problem or condition, such as addiction, depression, or anxiety. A licensed mental healthcare professional facilitates the sessions, and the group shares their experiences. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers a family support group, hosting weekly or monthly sessions.
  • Sliding scale therapists. A sliding scale means that the fee depends on an individual’s income. For example, if an individual has a lower income, they pay a lower cost for therapy sessions.
  • College mental health services. Some colleges offer free or reduced-cost counseling sessions for students.
  • Mental health centers. These centers offer free and low cost sessions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can assist in finding a mental health center.

A mental health crisis is a situation in which a person has a significant chance of harming themselves or others and cannot care for themselves.

According to Mind, a mental health organization based in the United Kingdom, some reasons a person could experience a crisis include:

  • addiction
  • exam stress
  • abuse
  • financial difficulty

In addition, NAMI notes that those going through a mental health crisis may experience:

  • inability to bathe, brush hair, or change clothes
  • violent behavior
  • rapid mood changes
  • self-harm
  • paranoia
  • inability to recognize family and friends

NAMI recommends that a person call a psychiatrist or therapist if they believe they are experiencing a mental health crisis but are not in immediate danger. The mental healthcare professional will evaluate the situation and determine the best course of action.

However, a person should call 911 or their local emergency number if they are in a life-threatening situation. The emergency responders can send an appropriate medical professional specializing in mental health conditions.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, suicide is the leading cause of death in individuals ages 15–24. Individuals can learn about the warning signs of suicide to help others seek immediate help.

BetterHelp is an online platform that offers therapy sessions for adults, couples, and teenagers. It offers a subscription service and financial aid for those who have financial difficulties.

The company does not accept insurance but claims that its virtual counseling visits cost less than in-person visits.

A person can look for other low cost or free therapy options, such as support groups and sliding scale therapists.