Talk Therapy Covered Less By Insurance

In a recent article in the New York Times, Dr. Donald Levin, a psychiatrist in Pennsylvania talks about his changing practice.

When he started practicing psychiatry, he reated 50 to 60 patients in once- or twice-weekly talk-therapy sessions of 45 minutes each. Now, like many of his peers, he treats 1,200 people in mostly 15-minute visits for prescription changes that are sometimes months apart.

And he says, he used to know his patients’ inner lives better than he knew his wife’s, but now, he often cannot remember their names. Then, his goal was to help his patients become happy and fulfilled; now, it is just to keep them functional.

What does that mean for you? It may mean that your insurance company will be more likely to pay for psychiatry visits, but not for talk therapy – even though we know talk therapy – especially cognitive based therapy works well with eating disorders.

Other studies show that talk therapy may be as good as or better than drugs in the treatment of depression, but fewer than half of depressed patients now get such therapy, compared with the vast majority who did twenty years ago.

If you aren’t offered talk therapy – only a doctor who can prescribe meds – don’t throw baby out with the bathwater – medications can be a lifesaver. Ask the psychiatrist for a recommendation for a talk therapists to supplement the care you’re already receiving.

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