Gaskill noted that when she submitted her information online, it did not appear to have been received by the correct department or URL. “I’m still on those lists. Magellan would tell patients that I was a provider, but I never qualified for them in that state.” She still gets calls from patients who tell her their name is from their Obtained from a list provided by an operator or a working employee benefits representative.
Alan Morse is a clinical and counseling psychologist and a board certified coach. The traditional insurance model of getting paid by certifying certain providers is outdated and harmful, he said. People aren’t getting the help they need, and doctors are on strike on their own by dropping insurance plans to get paid.
“Mental health has not kept pace with other medical practices. People need to be more proactive and ask themselves what they really need. Work backwards. For me, what does a successful outcome look like? Can I get a counselor or coach etc. Are there other trained professionals to help with my problem?”
He recommends national associations like the American Psychiatric Association and the National Register of Health Services Psychologists as a starting point, but says don’t ignore community outreach.
“Pastoral counseling, community mental health programs, synagogues, mosques, charitable nonprofits, etc. are more helpful than people realize. They can put you in touch with resources or colleagues.”
If you encounter network obstacles, keep the following in mind:
do your homework
Think like a detective before calling anyone. Ask yourself what is important to you right now and what you think you need to feel or function better. Then investigate who can help you. It may require an evaluation by a psychologist or psychiatrist, but probably not. If you have bulimia or addiction issues, an eating disorder specialist or substance counselor may be able to put you in the right direction. So as you take stock of all the factors that have contributed to your current predicament, be sure to be clear.
Insurance sites are not gospel
Don’t believe everything you read. As mentioned earlier, insurance companies and large practice groups are not updating information fast enough to meet the needs of mental health patients and professionals. Therefore, the “No new patients accepted” message you received may be out of date. You will need to make some calls and find out for yourself. Many vendors list availability, but their timelines show no openings as part of the screening process. I know some people who don’t want the public to just call and make an appointment without providing some information. When in doubt, call the provider and ask.
Verify who will pay your bill
Aside from finding someone, this is probably the most important step, unless you expect to receive hundreds of dollars in invoices. If you are taking out insurance, make sure your specific plan will pay for it. Just because it shows Blue Cross on your card doesn’t mean Blue Cross is the one paying for the service. Third-party companies are often involved, and reimbursement policies, including the amount they pay, vary from state to state.ask Your Specific plans, not your insurance company’s general policy.
Be honest about your pressing needs
If you have a crisis, tell someone else. If you’ve stopped taking your medication, or can’t stop crying, now is not the time for extensive research. Call your primary doctor, who may call or refer a colleague on your behalf, or direct you to an agency. Don’t wait to “feel better” or put off. Get help even if you don’t intend to hurt yourself or others. If your only option is the emergency department, so be it. At the very least, the hospital can address your medication problems and direct you to counseling services until you find your way.
Understand that private healthcare is a business
Most of us already know this, but it’s worth repeating. Smaller mental health practices are bought and sold left and right. Many people don’t buy insurance at all. Reimbursement rates for mental health providers are much lower than for other types of providers. However, they may offer options like sliding scale payments (pay what you can afford) or lower interest rates. It all depends on practice. Private companies make their own rules, so talk to those in charge.
Most importantly, know that this can be an elimination process. Finding good, affordable and professional mental health assistance takes real work. No centralized database or catch-all. It is the patient’s or guardian’s responsibility to figure out what to do as an individual or as a family.
But we are all worth fighting for. please continue.
If you or someone you know is struggling or needs mental health support, please contact National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in English and Spanish.
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