This is a simple question with no simple answer, unfortunately. Insurance has become more and more complicated and benefits, particularly mental health benefits, are increasingly more restricted. That said, in order to help my patients I have, over the years, become well-versed in insurance issues. If we meet I can tell you more, but here are some main points:
Most insurance companies differentiate between “in-network” and “out-of-network” benefits. In order to be “in-network” providers must agree to reduce their fee drastically and work for roughly 1/3 the regular rate. I have chosen, for this and other reasons, to opt out of joining networks; To make a living with those kind of fee restrictions I would have to work so many hours that my ability to give people my best and full attention would be compromised.
If you have , as part of your coverage, out-of-network benefits, some of the cost of treatment is often reimbursable. HMO plans would not apply as they have “in-network” benefits only. Benefits vary widely, with regard to the number of sessions allowed, the percentage that is reimbursed and the so called “allowable amounts”. I can help you determine the extent to which your insurance will help; sometimes the exact reimbursement is only clear after the first visit’s claim is submitted.
Some people choose not to use their insurance. They want total privacy and autonomy and would rather keep a third party out of something so personal.
I have a standard fee and I also make arrangements, as needed, to adjust the fee for special circumstances. The fee is part of what we talk about during the initial consultation(s). I try to work with whoever wants to see me and, if this is not practical, one of my associates or other referrals will be provided.
These questions are very person-specific. Some people come for a handful of sessions. They have gotten what they need, they feel better and finish quickly. Many other people find that therapy is a little like remodeling a house; once you begin, you discover many other areas and the scope of the work becomes larger.
It may sound strange to put it this way, but one needs to learn to be a patient in psychotherapy or analysis. And, people get better at it, and get more out of it, over time. More frequent sessions are useful in a similar way that more frequent visits to the gym are useful.
The details of all of these things (insurance, fee, frequency of visits) are worked out collaboratively between you and me in the beginning of treatment. Further, any of these things may change over time as we work together.