Not feeling your best mentally? Whether it’s a general lack of motivation or something more serious, rest assured that you’re not alone. Mental health problems are common amongst Americans, with nearly one in five adults having experienced some form of mental illness in 2020.
To get help with your mental health, you might be interested in seeing a psychiatrist—a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health problems. But if you’re on a budget and you don’t have insurance, you may be wondering, “How much does a psychiatrist cost without insurance?”
This page answers that question and helps you understand the broader picture of the costs associated with seeing a psychiatrist. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll have all of the information you need to see a psychiatrist for as low of an out-of-pocket cost as possible.
In the future, be sure to work with a trustworthy insurance company that puts the mental well-being of the patient first. A streamlined digital-first approach to managing and accessing mental healthcare services means you can get the care you need, when you need it, and go back to living your best life as quickly as possible.
Broadly speaking, a psychiatrist is a doctor who specializes in treating mental health problems. Specifically, some of the problems psychiatrists help solve include:
Acute ones, such as suddenly experiencing panic attacks, intrusive thoughts of self-harm, or hallucinations
Long-term ones, such as depression, anxiety, or a general lack of everyday wellbeing
You don’t need to know exactly what’s wrong before you see a psychiatrist—the right psychiatrist will guide you through a step-by-step process to get you feeling better again.
When you visit a psychiatrist, they will ask you a series of questions about your problems to try and determine what the underlying cause of your mental health problems is.
Since psychiatrists are licensed doctors, they have many different types of tests at their disposal—both physical and mental.
For example, if a male patient is getting older and finding himself experiencing a lack of motivation, the psychiatrist may perform a physical test on the patient’s testosterone levels. Other times, mental health tests may be conducted just by the two of you talking—also known as psychotherapy.
Once again, because psychiatrists are licensed doctors, they have a very wide variety of treatment options available for patients, no matter the severity of your mental health issues.
The most common type of treatment that is sometimes paired with other treatment options is psychotherapy, which, as covered, is when you and your psychiatrist talk about your problems to try and come to a solution.
Psychotherapy may be conducted alone with just you and your psychiatrist. It may also be performed in groups, usually with loved ones who are close to you and have a major impact on your life, if your psychiatrist feels that method of psychotherapy will be more helpful than one-on-one sessions.
Other times, if your psychiatrist determines that your problem is more severe, they may make use of other treatment options, such as prescribing you medication, to help solve your problem. Common psychiatric prescriptions include antidepressants, antipsychotics, stimulants, sedatives, and mood stabilizers.
Regardless of the type of treatment your psychiatrist makes use of, similar to dermatologist visits, it’s common to see your psychiatrist periodically so the two of you can review the state of your mental health and make adjustments to your treatment regimen as necessary.
Although the two types of mental health professionals perform similar duties (and their names even sound similar), they are not identical. Psychiatrists go through more training than psychologists and have a better understanding of the overall functions of the human body.
Another key difference is the type of treatment you will receive from each professional. Psychologists focus only on behavioral issues and make extensive use of psychotherapy (talking through problems). Psychiatrists do as well, but they are also able to prescribe other treatments like prescription pills due to their higher level of medical certification.
The cost of visiting a psychiatrist is variable depending on the scope of your visit and what the psychiatrist helps you with while you’re there.
To start, you’ll have to pay for the initial consultation. Unlike other industries where the initial consultation is sometimes free or discounted, a consultation with a psychiatrist is sometimes more expensive than follow-up visits.
Then, you’ll have to pay for regular visitation to your psychiatrist. Your psychiatrist will be able to make recommendations on how frequently you should be visiting.
Another key expense when it comes to psychiatry is the treatment options that your psychiatrist may want to make use of. These treatment options are not included in the cost to visit the psychiatrist—they’re extra.
Even with insurance, it’s possible that your visits to the psychiatrist could result in minimal out-of-pocket expenses.
For the initial consultation and follow-up visits, you will likely receive at least partial coverage from your health insurance company. In many cases, you will be responsible only for a copay, which is a flat fee you pay for certain healthcare services.
Some healthcare plans may put restrictions on how many times you can visit your psychiatrist in a month or year if you wish to receive coverage. If you exceed this number of visits in the specified timeframe, you may be responsible for the entire fee, not just the copay.
Treatment beyond psychotherapy, such as prescription pills, is unlikely to be covered in the flat-fee copay. These treatments will likely be billed on a coinsurance basis, meaning your insurance company covers the majority of the expense and you pay for a smaller percentage of it.
Keep in mind that coinsurance rates usually kick in only after your annual deductible has been met. A deductible is a fixed dollar amount that you need to pay out of pocket before your health insurance company begins helping out with certain healthcare costs.
If you have not met your deductible, you may be responsible for the full cost of additional treatment beyond psychotherapy.
Without insurance, you’ll be responsible for both the full fees of the psychiatrist visit and the full fees of any treatment options your psychiatrist thinks will be helpful for you.
Each visit could cost between $65 and $250.
The exact cost will likely depend on the cost of living in your area. For example, visiting a psychiatrist in Manhattan—a part of New York City with a very high cost of living—will likely cost more than visiting one in a more rural area of the country that has a lower cost of living.
Regarding treatment, how much does it cost to see a psychiatrist without insurance? The cost of treatment options varies greatly. For prescription pills, a common treatment option recommended by psychiatrists, a monthly supply can run into the hundreds of dollars. For example, commonly-prescribed antidepressants can cost between $5 and $10 per dose, which is multiplied by 30 for a full month’s supply.
Not all Americans can afford to spend hundreds of dollars every month on psychiatric care—especially if these individuals were unable to afford private health insurance in the first place.
Luckily, there are a few options available to you if you wish to visit a psychiatrist but are having trouble affording either the visitation fees or the treatment costs.
Compare prices. Even in the same geographic area with the same cost of living, certain psychiatrists will charge more than others. “Shop around” by inquiring about fees from multiple psychiatrists near you.
Ask for a discount. If you don’t have insurance, some psychiatrists may be willing to reduce their rates for you. It never hurts to ask.
Inquire about sliding scales. On a similar note, some psychiatrists will offer to bill you based on your income. In other words, if you earn less, you’ll pay less for psychiatric visits, though treatment costs will likely remain static.
Look for low-cost clinics. Mental health clinics in your area can offer professional care while charging a fraction of what a typical psychiatrist’s office would.
Reduce prescription costs. Services like RXSaver can help you save on prescriptions, even without insurance. Also, if your psychiatrist prescribes an expensive medication, see if it’s possible and appropriate to use a less expensive but comparable prescription.
Alternate payment methods for psychiatry, such as medical credit cards, should ideally be used only as a last resort. Since psychiatry costs are generally recurring, either in the form of follow-up visits or prescriptions, moving the costs to a credit card can result in significant unwanted debt.
In the long-term, the best way to see a psychiatrist and get help with your mental health problems is by having health insurance. No matter who you are or what your income is, you likely have at least one option to choose from.
Public health insurance refers to health insurance plans that are subsidized by the federal government. There are three popular public health insurance programs in the United States.
Medicare. Medicare is generally used by individuals who are age 65 or older.
Medicaid. Medicaid is generally used by individuals who cannot afford private health insurance.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP is generally used by families who earn too little to afford private health insurance, but too much to qualify for Medicaid. With CHIP, children in these families can receive free or discounted health insurance.
Private health insurance refers to any non-public health insurance plan you enroll in. The most common type of private health insurance plan is a group workplace plan. A derivative of a group workplace plan is a small business health insurance plan.
Not all private health insurance plans are the same. Some cost more than others, and some are more restrictive than others in regards to which professionals you can visit and how frequently you can visit them.
For example, a health maintenance organization (HMO) is usually the cheapest type of private health insurance plan you can enroll in. However, it’s also the most restrictive. You may be restricted to visiting only a few psychiatrists in your area. If you don’t get along with any of them, you may find your health insurance plan to be less useful than you had hoped.
A preferred provider organization (PPO) is another popular type of private health insurance plan where you have more flexibility regarding the psychiatrists you can see. In some cases, you can receive coverage even if you see a psychiatrist that is outside of the approved list of medical providers of your particular health plan, which allows you to test out many psychiatrists to see which one you get along with best. This increased flexibility usually comes at the cost of a higher monthly premium.
Learn more about enrolling in a new private health insurance plan to make sure you get the best deal for you in particular.
Before you make your final decision, make sure you’re covered for psychiatric services, and it’s also wise to check to see which prescription medications you’re covered for, as those are common treatment options recommended by psychiatrists.
How much does a psychiatrist appointment cost without insurance? It depends on where you live, but in general, expect to pay between $65 and $250 for each appointment if you don’t have insurance, which is similar to the fees a chiropractor charges.
Remember that you will also be responsible for paying for any additional treatment options, such as prescription pills, that are not covered in the cost of the actual visit to the psychiatrist.
The best way to make use of psychiatric services is to have a reliable health insurance plan that covers psychiatric services, offers affordable copays, and provides coverage for a wide range of potential psychiatric treatments beyond psychotherapy. When you work with a trustworthy insurance company that puts the mental wellbeing of the patient above all else, it’s easy to find a psychiatrist you trust and get back to living the life you want to live.