For years, the tools to conduct remote mental health care have existed. But according to this article by Vox, there were extreme disincentives for providers and clients alike to use these remote services. Medicare didn’t pay for teletherapy services under most circumstances, and with private insurance and Medicaid, it was a risk. Some plans paid for it, others paid at rates less than in-person sessions, meaning a therapist would either have to charge their clients more or take a pay cut.
With the onset of the pandemic, the insurers and government programs largely relented: Many therapists are now being paid in full for teletherapy. Other obstacles have disappeared, too. Therapists have to be licensed in every state they see clients in, but now many therapists can offer teletherapy, temporarily, for people across state lines.
“I definitely think it’s expanded the number of people who are able to be seen,” says Katie Gordon, a North Dakota-based psychologist. She can see clients who are based in nearby Minnesota, even though she isn’t licensed to practice there. “It would be a shame if we returned back to the way things were,” she says.
The pandemic has given mental health care a much-needed boost into the 21st century. It’s also a chance to reflect not just on how the world is changing in response to the current crisis, but also how it ought to change.
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