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What You Should Know About Your Insurance’s Mental Health Benefits

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Insurance is a really hard topic to understand for most people. Between deductibles, copays, HSAs, and FSAs, it can be really complicated. And where do mental health benefits come in?

Here, we’ll help you understand some of the most common head-scratchers you might have. Remember, though, if you have specific questions, it is always best to call the number on the back of your insurance card.

If I pick the most expensive insurance plan, will all my mental health care costs be covered?

In many cases (even with the best insurance plans), this can’t be completely guaranteed. Expensive insurance plans can certainly reduce your out-of-pocket costs; however, even if your therapist is in-network, you will often still owe a copay or coinsurance — just like a visit to the doctor. 

The good news is, since 2014, most health insurance plans typically cover behavioral health treatment (like therapy), inpatient services (like rehabilitation), and substance use disorder treatment. 

To find out what is covered (and if you would need to set aside money for a copay or deductible), you can call the number on the back of your insurance card.

When can I start using my mental health benefits? 

A lot of people are surprised when they realize their health insurance does not activate immediately. Most insurance policies have a “waiting period” before coverage kicks in for new members. 

If you’re getting your insurance through an employer, you can ask if there is a waiting period before you’re hired so that you can plan ahead before using your mental health benefits.

If I’m young and healthy, do I really need to get health insurance? 

When you're young, it's a good idea to have insurance for your physical health and mental health — they are related, after all. And there is no predicting what tomorrow will bring. If you do not have insurance, any sort of health issue (physical or mental) could mean unexpected medical costs. 

Physical health aside, nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults are living with a mental health condition. Mental health conditions can affect anyone, regardless of age. Having health insurance allows you to access a network of therapists with affordable rates. 

If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health emergency, do not use this site. Instead, call 911 or use one of these emergency resources.

Last Updated:
First Published:
March 21, 2022
Reviewed By:


National Institute of Mental Health. (2022, January). Mental Illness. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Retrieved February 21, 2022, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness 

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