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  • Jenna Trollope

How free is our health care?

Mental health has been a focus in the media after a year of isolation and an onslaught of horrible news. All of us could use a hug from our friends and people are seeking out mental health services. According to a 2018 survey cosponsored by the National Council for Behavioral Health, 42 % do not acquire mental health services due to cost and poor insurance coverage. Because of cost, coverage, and the social stigma still associated with mental and substance use disorders, most people with behavioural health issues do not receive treatment (Williams and Pfeffer).

We can access everything else online, and mental health services have followed suit to become more accessible. Websites such as BetterHelp and Talkspace are now online platforms that connect mental health patients with a practitioner that meets their needs. You can go on their website and take an easy quiz so they can match you with a specialist that has a background that could be a good match for you. Some sites such as First Session has a list of the individuals’ designations and a short video so you can see them discuss their therapy styles and temperament.

In Ontario, we have limited mental health care support to meet the diverse needs of the population. It does exist, but usually at a cost. If you schedule an appointment with a therapist, it will usually be out of pocket. If you have health insurance coverage through your employer, you may only have a portion of the session covered and an annual maximum of $500. That only covers around 5 appointments, depending on their hourly rate.

Make sure you read the terms and conditions.

Recently, I learned that my work insurance policy would only cover an online therapy session if the website could confirm the practitioner’s designation was valid in my province and there was a list of specific designations they would accept. The website assigned me a practitioner somewhere in the USA, and when I requested a swap, I learned they didn’t have anyone working in Canada, so any services would be out of pocket.

I have been on both sides of a customer service phone call, and I sympathize with them. They did not write the contracts and they do not need to agree with all the terms. They didn’t sign it, you did.

When dealing with finance, health care, or insurance, make sure you read the terms and conditions. If you have the right professional advice, it can cost you a few hundred, but it can save you thousands.

P.S. Some professional services can be written off in Canada when you file your taxes😊

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