The Price of Better Mental Health: How to Pay for Alternative Depression Treatments

The Price of Better Mental Health: How to Pay for Alternative Depression Treatments

As many as 5 million Americans suffer from treatment-resistant depression. That’s about 30% of all adults who seek depression treatment. Most insurance companies cover traditional methods of depression treatment, including psychotherapy and antidepressant medications. When it comes to the alternative depression treatments that are often recommended for those with treatment-resistant depression, coverage is less consistent.

Take a look at these average annual healthcare costs to see just how much more expensive it can be to have depression that doesn’t respond to typical therapies:
  • Patients with no major depression: $4,700
  • Non-treatment-resistant depression patients: $9,700
  • Treatment-resistant depression patients: $17,000

If the price of better mental health seems overwhelming to you, you’re not alone. It can be difficult to navigate the different costs of each treatment and possible insurance coverage while you’re dealing with mental health challenges. We’ll walk you through the steps to figure out how to pay for alternative depression treatments so you can get the help you need.


Understand Your Insurance Coverage

As you look into alternative therapies for depression, you’ll need to contact your insurance provider directly to get details about what’s covered and what’s not. Here are some of the treatment options you can ask about:

  • Ketamine Infusion Therapy
  • Esketamine nasal spray (also known by the pharmaceutical name Spravato)
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

Don’t be discouraged if the treatment you want is not covered by insurance. There are several options for working with your insurance provider to reduce costs, including:

  1. Get a recommendation from your primary care physician to back up your request for coverage. Have your doctor document your resistance to other treatments and their referral for alternative therapy.
  2. Ask about insurance gaps. Your insurance company may provide some reimbursement if you point out that lack of coverage for certain treatments creates a gap in overall coverage.
  3. Be persistent. If you don’t get a satisfactory answer from the first insurance representative you speak to, try calling again. Explain your situation and why you need the treatment.


Compare Costs of Treatment Providers

Once you’ve determined which type of treatment you want to pursue, you’ll need to compare the costs of various treatment providers. Find out which doctors in your area offer the type of treatment you need and ask for details about the prices of their services.

It may also help to schedule a consultation with some of the providers you’re considering so that you can check out their facilities and ask more questions about their treatments.

You don’t necessarily want to choose the cheapest treatment provider. A number of factors should be weighed when comparing costs, including:

  • Treatment success rate
  • Staff qualifications and experience
  • Quality of patient care and attention
  • Grade of medical equipment and facilities
  • Availability of appointments
  • Reviews or recommendations from other patients


Seek Financing Options

If your insurance will not cover the costs of treatment, you may need to look into financing options, such as:

  • Professional medical care financing companies
  • Bank loans
  • Credit cards
  • Loans from family or friends

These options should be used only as a backup option when insurance coverage is not available. While they are not ideal solutions to the cost of depression treatment, it’s important to prioritize your mental health.


Complete a Cost-Benefit Analysis

Alternative depression treatments may cost more than traditional treatments due to a lack of insurance coverage. However, you could actually save money in the long run if you’re able to finance these treatments on a short-term basis. You shouldn’t compare only the base cost of treatments when deciding which option is right for you. What really matters is what kind of results you’ll get from a treatment.

Consider the example of Ketamine Infusion Therapy, which is typically not covered by insurance. The costs might seem too high at first glance, but many patients are spending a comparable amount of money on treatments and other things to cope that are ineffective. Additionally, most patients only need six sessions over the course of two to three weeks for optimal benefits, so the costs are upfront for longer-term results. Dividing the cost over 3-4 months, the average duration of relief is another way of looking at it. This therapy also has a high success rate of over 80%, even in people with treatment-resistant depression. There is an opportunity cost to being hindered or even disabled by depression. 

Compare that example to antidepressant medications like SSRIs. You may need to take these meds for weeks or months before you see an improvement. Many people who go on antidepressants continue taking them for years, and others experience trouble with the meds losing effectiveness over time. Even if much of the cost is covered by insurance, the costs of prescription refills and ongoing doctor’s appointments will add up over a longer treatment period. Worst of all, if you have treatment-resistant depression, you simply won’t get the relief you need from your symptoms through antidepressants, which makes alternative treatments like Ketamine Infusion Therapy well worth the cost.

The cost of alternative depression treatments should be viewed as an investment in your mental health. If you need help paying for treatment, schedule a call with our Patient Care Specialists to discuss insurance and other financing options.


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