Helping Children When a Family Member has Cancer: Understanding Psychosocial Support Services

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Will my insurance pay for counseling services?

Most health plans have some coverage for counseling. But coverage is often more limited than it is for medical services. Mental health coverage is supposed to be available to most people with health insurance, but new laws are just making their way into health insurance policies. The major health care reform legislation passed in 2010 does not fully take effect until 2014. So, you may find that your coverage still doesn’t meet your needs. Some policies only pay for a limited number of sessions. A managed care policy may limit your choices about whom you can see. Your insurance may have contracts with certain mental health providers, but not with others. Smaller employers may not be required to cover mental health treatment at all. Check on your co-pay and how much you will be reimbursed for your mental health provider.

If you have trouble understanding how much is covered, ask your hospital or clinic social worker to help. If there are no free counseling services in the hospital or clinic where you are being treated, staff can usually help you get clear information about your insurance plan and what services are covered. Your oncology team should also know of services in the community that may use a sliding scale fee that adjusts to your income. They may be aware of services in the community offered at low or no cost to you, too.

Money can be a barrier, but it’s important that you persist and get the kind of help you need when you need it. Don’t feel embarrassed about needing support services. Getting mental health support is a sign of health and strength. Most people will go through something hard or stressful in their life at some point, and many will need help to get through it. Give yourself the chance to learn and grow through the cancer experience and share that strength with your loved ones.


Last Medical Review: 08/09/2012
Last Revised: 08/09/2012