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Thinking of Therapy? It Might Be Covered by Your UK Medical Insurance

15th August 2023
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We all go through times in life when we could benefit from the support of a therapist. It could be after a loss, bereavement or traumatic event. Or because you’re feeling anxious, angry or low. Or because there are issues from your past that you’d like to work through with a caring and expert professional.

Whatever your reason for considering therapy, if you currently have private medical cover (such as Bupa, Axa, Vitality, Aetna, Allianz, Alliance, WPA, Healix, Simply Health, Cigna International or Aviva), then it might be possible to pay for sessions using your insurance policy. But how does the process work, exactly?

The good news is that in the UK, most health insurance packages cover the costs of therapy, either fully or partially. That said, some plans don’t. What’s more, there might be limits to the amount of therapy sessions that you can get with your cover or the type of therapist you can see. So it’s a good idea to contact your insurance provider and find out exactly what you’re entitled to, in the first instance.

Lumo Health psychologists accept payments from most providers but bear in mind that not all therapists accept insurance payments. So before booking your first appointment, make sure to double check this.

The idea of dealing with insurance companies might seem a little overwhelming at first, especially if you are coping with stress, anxiety or low mood. So to demystify the process, here is our nine-step guide to using insurance to pay for therapy in the UK:

Step 1: Check your level of cover

Usually, if your policy has something called ‘enhanced mental health coverage’ then this means that it covers you to see specialists with more advanced qualifications, such as doctorates. These can include clinical psychologists and counselling psychologists.

Without enhanced cover, you’re more likely to be directed to counsellors or therapists who’ve done some basic training in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). This is important to know, as while CBT can be very helpful for some challenges — such as changing unhelpful thinking patterns — it isn’t necessarily effective for everyone. For example if you’ve experienced a traumatic event, you may want to see a professional who is trained in EMDR. It’s important to find out if your insurance covers this.

 

Step 2: Get authorisation from your insurance provider

Once you’ve decided that you want therapy, it’s crucial to get your insurance company’s authorisation to use your policy. This is the same whether you want to use your own personal medical insurance or if your employer provides access to health insurance via a corporate policy. If the insurer approves the request, you will be given an authorisation number that you can give to the therapist that you choose. Bear in mind that sometimes, an insurance provider will also require a referral from your GP before they will authorise sessions.

Step 3: Confirm how many appointments you can attend

When your provider gives you the authorisation number, they will also usually let you know how many sessions you are covered to attend. Usually, it’s a block of eight to ten sessions in the first instance. Then, depending on the policy, your therapist might be able to request more if needed. They can do this by providing a brief treatment update to your policy provider, including a rationale for why you need further sessions. Some policies reset each year and when it is renewed, a new amount of sessions become available.

Step 4: Find out if there is an insurance excess

With healthcare policies there will usually be an excess that you need to pay directly to your therapist. If this is the case, then make sure to find out from your therapist in advance how they arrange their billing and how they prefer to be paid.

Step 5: Decide if you want in-person or online sessions

For many people, online therapy is an easier, more convenient and more accessible option. And since the pandemic, there has been a huge surge in the popularity of video sessions, with effective results. Thankfully, insurance companies have caught up with this trend and updated many of their policies to let people use them for online therapy.

Video therapy also enables you to access a wider pool of therapists from across the UK, giving you a wealth of options that you might not have had a few years ago. That said, some people prefer to have their sessions in person and many therapists are still offering this too.

Step 6: Choose the right kind of therapy for you

It’s important to find a therapist whose approach matches your needs. That’s why knowing what you want to get from your sessions can help you to make an informed decision about the type of therapy to choose. For instance, some approaches are exploratory and led by you (Psychodynamic), others are trauma-focused (EMDR and Somatic Experiencing), while others are structured around goals and changing behaviour (ACT, CBT, DBT and Mindfulness Therapy).

Also, keep in mind that not all therapeutic methods are evidence-based — in other words, they might not have undergone scientific testing and been proven to be effective. All the above-mentioned therapies are recommended in best practice treatment guidelines and all Lumo Heath therapists are trained in these scientifically-proven approaches.

Step 7: Choose a specific therapist

We’ve looked at the importance of choosing the right type of therapy for you. The next step is choosing the right therapist — in other words, someone that you feel comfortable working with and whose approach is compatible with your needs.

It is your choice, as your insurance company should never just ‘assign’ you to a therapist. That said, there can be some restrictions, as each insurance company has a specific network of therapists that are registered with them. To start with, you can ask your insurer to send you a list of their registered practitioners but just be aware that this might not be up to date. That is why it’s always good to ask potential therapists if they are still working with your provider.

But what if you want to work with a therapist who isn’t registered with your insurance company — perhaps one that you’ve already started seeing? Thankfully, there could be a way around this, as you might be able to agree with your insurer for you to pay for the therapist upfront then get reimbursed via your policy. However, this may only be possible if your therapist is eligible to be a registered provider with that insurance company.

Step 8: Book your first appointment

Going through the process of finding a therapist, dealing with your insurance provider and booking a session can all feel daunting at first. That is why Lumo Heath offers a single, streamlined online space for finding up-to-date lists of practitioners who are registered with specific insurers, such as BUPA, Axa and Aviva.

You can also read the bios of therapists, see their accreditations, view their current availability, and book an online or in-person appointment. And as all of our therapists are qualified to an advanced level, you will be working with a specialist.

Therapy can be an effective way to process emotions and experiences, make sense of situations and relationships, and develop tools for coping with stress, anxiety or mood issues. If you feel that you’d benefit from the insights of a compassionate expert then it’s well worth checking to see if your insurance provider will cover this.

Dealing with challenges in your life right now? Book an in-person, online or live chat appointment with a world-class Lumo Health therapist. Single-session appointments are available.

Thinking of Therapy? It Might Be Covered by Your UK Medical Insurance
Clinical Director
Lumo Health team
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