What insurance plans do you take?
Therapy or counseling is an investment in your life, health, relationships, career, family, and future. I run a small, boutique-style practice as a specialist in working almost exclusively with gay men, as individuals or gay male couples for over 27 years as a gay, HIV-positive (29 years) person myself. I sometimes see other adults, such as women, lesbians, and straight men, but LGBT or gay-affirmative therapy has been my specialty in my clinical work, research, writing, speaking, and teaching (I’m an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at USC, part-time, teaching advanced courses in evidence-based clinical practice, couples therapy, and LGBT Psycho-Social-Political Issues in their graduate MSW program).
Currently, as the most experienced gay men’s specialist therapist in Los Angeles, I offer you an in-depth knowledge of gay men’s mental health that even the most well-meaning straight therapist, male or female, cannot provide. Even other gay male therapists who are generalists who work with everyone don’t have my specific expertise in working almost exclusively with gay men and gay male couples, or my long experience in this work for over 27 years. Plus, being a gay man myself, living and working in Los Angeles/West Hollywood for over 30 years, I “walk my talk” of living in the gay male community. I’m also in a long-term (17 years) relationship with my husband; we were one of the first 18,000 same-sex couples to be married in California in 2008. And for those living with or concerned about HIV, I have been living successfully with HIV, healthy and active, for 29 years, since 1990. I am proud that I live in the same community in which I work. I “get you” in a depth of gay men’s cultural understanding that other therapists can’t offer in the same way.
Because of this experience and specialization, I work on a private-hire basis only. I’m not an in-network provider with any of the corporate health insurance “HMO”/managed care plans, and I don’t bill insurance plans directly. You simply pay your session fee at the time of each session (cash, check, or having a debit/credit card on file, Venmo, or PayPal), and I provide you with a completed claim form for you to submit to health insurance plan to seek reimbursement as long as you have a PPO plan with “out-of-network” benefits.
Speak with your health plan’s customer service representative (at the number on your health plan membership card) if you’re not sure if you have an HMO or a PPO plan, or whether they cover “out-of-network providers” for “outpatient psychotherapy”. You might also ask if you have a deductible to meet for the calendar year, which is the amount you are responsible for, before your insurance benefits apply. If you are budgeting for your therapy, we might have to have a session and you submit a claim form before your insurance will reveal how much they will reimburse you; usually, they will not reveal the actual dollar amount they reimburse you before you submit a live claim, but they might give you an estimate, such as “50 percent of average fees for your geographic area”. However, they will not reveal what they consider the “average” or “reasonable and customary” fee until you submit an actual claim; they consider this information their corporate intellectual property. After they process your claim, I will work with you and discuss your situation and do my best to make something work for us.
What is your session fee?
Session fees vary per person, based on a “sliding scale” linked to your annual income. My standard session fee is $250, but this can be subject to discussion for those earning below $100,000 per year in annual income. We re-assess your ability to pay and adjust your fee periodically to discuss what you can manage if your circumstances change. Please feel free to ask to discuss your personal circumstances and we can identify some options to try to make therapy with me possible for you. We would need to discuss your income level, other resources, or any financial hardships you have that might affect your ability to pay. Reduced-fee appointments are usually offered in the weekday afternoons. I can also refer you to my clinical associates, who work under my supervision in my office certain weekday mornings and weekends, and they offer lower fees. If you need a very low fee, I can provide you with some referrals to low-cost counseling resources and programs in the community.
What types of payment do you accept?
Cash or check are always accepted, but I also ask to put a credit card on file for occasions where you might forget to bring cash or check, or to cover your fee if you have to cancel without giving 48 hours’ notice, or if you have a session via phone or via webcam. I use Stripe, the secured/encrypted software for processing credit card transactions, and I cover the fees to use this service myself, at no additional cost to you. You can also use a card that is for pre-tax, flex Healthcare Savings Accounts. You can also use the PayPal or Venmo apps to pay for sessions on the date of your appointment. I use SimplePractice as my practice management software in a “paperless office”.
Considering the Value of Therapy
I encourage you to consider the value of therapy to you, especially in comparison to the other things that you spend money on in the course of the month, and the intrinsic value that therapy/coaching offers in improving your life in many ways that can’t be quantified. If you ever feel that you are not getting value for the money you spend hiring me privately, we can talk about that, and see how I can be more attentive to your needs and make your investment in sessions more valuable. But hopefully your investment in therapy is helping you to earn more in your career, get more satisfaction from your relationships, support your health, improve your mood and outlook, and solve the problems that bother you the most. I think you’ll find that’s worth it.