Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 10/8/2021
If you have a mental health issue, such as depression or anxiety, one of the best steps that you can take is to see a psychiatrist.
Psychiatrists specialize in mental health. As medical doctors, they can prescribe medication and suggest interventions to improve your mental health, such as psychotherapy or changes to your habits and lifestyle.
Many people have concerns about working with a psychiatrist, often due to the potential costs of treatment.
As qualified, experienced professionals, psychiatrists generally charge their patients anywhere from $100 to $300 per appointment.
However, the cost of psychiatry may vary depending on your location, specific requirements and other factors.
If you have health insurance, your insurance provider may pay for some or all of your psychiatric treatment.
Below, we’ve talked about what psychiatrists are, as well as how psychiatrists differ from mental health professionals such as psychiatrists and therapists.
We’ve also explained what you can expect to pay for psychiatric treatment, as well as the steps that you can take to make receiving care more affordable.
Most psychiatrists employ a variety of methods to treat mental health issues, including the use of medication, psychotherapy and psychosocial interventions.
Psychiatrists are often confused with other mental health professionals, such as psychologists, therapists and counselors.
There are several main differences between psychiatrists and other mental health providers that you should be aware of when seeking treatment.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors, typically doctors of medicine (MD) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (DO).
Just like your primary care doctor, a psychiatrist will complete medical school and receive training in a diverse range of different medical disciplines.
After receiving a license to practice medicine, a psychiatrist will finish a four-year residency in psychiatry.
Psychiatrists then complete additional training and tests to gain board certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
As a medical doctor, a psychiatrist can provide psychotherapy and prescribe medication, such as antidepressants.
Psychologists are mental health professionals that specialize in cognition, mental states and other aspects of human behavior.
A psychologist won’t attend medical school — instead, they will earn a doctor of philosophy (PhD) or doctor of psychology (PsyD) qualification.
Many psychologists specialize in a specific area of mental health, such as clinical psychology, counseling psychology, neuropsychology or rehabilitation psychology.
Because a psychologist isn’t a medical doctor, they can’t prescribe medication for depression, anxiety or other mental health issues.
However, they may provide psychotherapy or work with your primary care provider to ensure you receive the medication you need.
In some states, psychologists with additional training may prescribe medication for depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.
Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners, or PMHNPs, are advanced practice nurses with specialist training in assessing, diagnosing and treating mental health issues.
A psychiatric nurse practitioner can legally diagnose you with a mental health disorder, provide therapy and prescribe and manage your medication.
In addition to psychiatrists and psychologists, many other qualified and licensed professionals work in the field of mental health.
Other mental health providers include therapists, counselors and social workers. These people may have qualifications in counseling, psychology, sociology, neurology and other fields related to mental health and wellbeing.
Our guide to the differences between therapists and psychologists offers additional information on the different professionals that provide mental healthcare.
The cost of psychiatry can vary based on numerous factors, including your location, the level of care you require and the specific psychiatrist you choose to see.
That said, it’s not uncommon to see psychiatrists charge fees in the range of $100 to $300 per appointment. You may need to pay a higher fee for your initial consultation (often referred to as an intake appointment), as this session often requires additional time.
It’s important to make a note of no-show fees, late cancellation fees, fees for out-of-appointment refills and other fees that you may need to pay.
Many psychiatrists will provide you with a full list of fees and information about payment options when you enquire about treatment.
The average cost of seeing a psychiatrist may be higher if you live in a metropolitan area with a high cost of living, such as New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles or a similar area.
Although not all health insurance policies cover mental health, many provide either full or partial coverage for mental health services such as visits to a psychiatrist.
This means that you may be able to save money on the cost of psychiatry if you’re covered via your employer’s health insurance plan or your own health insurance.
By law, if your health insurance plan provides coverage for mental health and substance abuse, it needs to be comparable to your physical health coverage. You can check your level of mental health coverage by contacting your insurance provider directly.
Medicare and Medicaid both provide coverage for psychiatry. Under Medicare Part B, coverage is provided for the following outpatient mental health services:
Administration of certain medications, such as injections
An annual depression screening
Individual and group psychotherapy
Family counseling, if the main purpose is to help with your treatment
Testing to see if your current treatment if effective
A one-time preventative “Welcome to Medicare” visit
An annual “wellness” visit, during which you can discuss your mental health with a licensed provider
The Medicare website provides more information about outpatient mental health care, including coverage for psychiatry.
Under Medicaid, coverage is provided for many inpatient and outpatient mental health services, including psychiatric evaluation and treatment, medication management and counseling.
If you have Medicaid, you can find out more about your level of coverage by calling your state’s Medicaid agency. The Medicaid website provides local contact information for all state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) agencies.
Seeing a psychiatrist can be expensive, especially if you don’t have insurance. However, there are several things that you can do to make getting psychiatric treatment more affordable.
One of the easiest, most effective ways to reduce the cost of seeing a psychiatrist is to take part in therapy online rather than in person.
Online psychiatry involves connecting with a psychiatry provider remotely. Since you talk to your psychiatrist online, there’s no commute, parking or waiting involved.
For example, our online psychiatry service allows you to connect with a licensed provider online via video chat for a psychiatric evaluation, personalized treatment plan and ongoing medication management and follow-up care.
Use Your Insurance Coverage
If your health insurance provider offers coverage for psychiatric evaluation and treatment, don’t be afraid to use it.
Under the Affordable Care Act, all plans provided through the Health Insurance Marketplace, as well as most individual and small employer health insurance plans, are required by law to cover mental health and substance use disorder services.
Many other insurance plans offer complete or partial coverage for mental health care — including psychiatric treatment.
If you’d like to see a specific psychiatrist, ask if they’re in any insurance networks. By seeing an in-network provider, you may have the entire cost of your treatment covered or only need to pay a small copay.
By staying in-network and using your insurance coverage, you can significantly reduce the cost of meeting with a psychiatrist, taking part in therapy sessions and receiving ongoing care.
Some employers offer free or low-cost access to a mental health professional for employees via their employee assistance program, or EAP.
Employee assistance programs are intended to help a company’s employees deal with personal problems that affect their work performance. Many offer services via phone or video call to make seeking care easier and more convenient.
You can find out more about your employee assistance program by contacting your workplace’s human resources department.
Some psychiatrists may offer sliding scale pricing, in which the amount you pay for treatment is adjusted based on your income. If you have a high income, you’ll pay full price, whereas if your income is limited, you may receive a discounted rate.
This type of pricing policy can significantly reduce the cost of psychiatric treatment if you have a limited income. Try asking your existing care provider if they offer sliding-scale pricing. You can also search for sliding-scale psychiatry services in your city.
Use search terms like “sliding-scale psychiatrist in [your location]” to find local providers that may be able to help you at an affordable price.
Many large and medium-sized cities have clinics that offer low-cost or free psychiatric care and therapy. These clinics may offer discounted cash rates and payment plans to make meeting with a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner more affordable.
Some universities also offer mental health care with an intern or resident. Seeking help this way is significantly more affordable than talking to a psychiatrist or other mental health provider in a private practice.
In some locations, you may be able to access federally funded health centers that offer low-cost therapy and other mental health services. You can search for health centers near you using the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Find a Health Center tool.
Psychiatrists specialize in treating mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, making them an invaluable source of help if you’re affected by mental illness.
Most psychiatrists charge between $100 and $300 for each appointment, or slightly more for an initial intake session. If you live in a major metropolitan area, the rates may be slightly higher.
You can reduce the cost of seeing a psychiatrist by using your insurance plan and working with an in-network psychiatrist.
If you have a limited income, you may be able to meet a psychiatrist at a reduced cost at a low-cost or sliding-scale clinic.
Finally, if you’d prefer to take part in therapy from your home, you can take part in a psychiatric evaluation and receive ongoing help and medication management using our online psychiatry service.
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