Mental Health

How Much Does It Cost to See a Psychiatrist Without Insurance?

Kendra Bean
Kendra Bean13 Apr 2022

The cost of a psychiatrist without insurance ranges between $150-$500 per session. Psychiatrists, just like other mental health professionals, work to optimize mental health and well-being. They utilize both medication and behaviorally-based treatment plans to prevent and reduce the burden of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. This price varies based on multiple factors including location, type of appointment, and needed medication/supplemental treatment. There are many ways to reduce the cost of psychiatric care and start receiving affordable care.

The Cost of a Psychiatrist

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in mental health, including substance use disorders. They are qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems. The field of psychiatry focuses on researching, understanding, diagnosing, and treating diseases of the brain and disorders of the mind and behavior. 

Factors That Influence Price

There are several factors that will impact how much your visit to the psychiatrist will cost. These factors should be analyzed to determine the price of treatment prior to beginning treatment with a psychiatrist. The most common factors that influence the cost of seeing a psychiatrist are:

Referral Costs

If your insurance requires a referral, then your first fee will be associated with seeing your primary care physician. At that visit, you will pay a normal copay. If your insurance does not require a referral you can call a psychiatrist and schedule an appointment directly.

Location and Credentials of the Psychiatrist

There are substantial differences in costs per session across both the degree types of the psychiatrist, and by city. More experience usually means the therapist will cost more. Additionally, highly experienced therapists typically charge more per session. Therapists in large metro areas charge more per session than those in smaller cities and rural areas.

Type of Appointment and Number of Therapy Sessions

Addressing specific conditions that require an expert often needs you to pay more — especially if you’re aiming to treat a rather unusual situation that is challenging to treat effectively.

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Medication and/or Supplementary Treatments

The initial consultation generally costs more as it is much more comprehensive and requires a longer duration of time. The cost of diagnosis comes with the price of the first session, and it does not cost more or less to be diagnosed with one condition versus another. If one’s diagnosis requires medication, then there will also be additional pharmacy costs outside of the psychiatric sessions associated with medications. If one is recommended for supplemental treatments there will be additional costs associated with those services.

The Cost of a Psychiatrist Without Insurance

If one does not have insurance, they will be paying “out-of-pocket” for the costs associated with their psychiatrist visit. Depending on where one lives and if it is the initial consultation or follow-up session, the cost can vary from $150-$500 per session. Again, the first session tends to be a lot more expensive and the subsequent sessions less costly as they are geared more towards medication management. 

If one finds themselves needing psychiatric care but are uninsured they should ask about help with the cost of treatment. Many psychiatrists are more than willing to offer sliding scale fees, where the price you pay is dependent on one’s ability to pay. This option can make mental health services much more affordable.

Average Out of Pocket (OOP) Psychiatrist Costs in Major Cities

City, StateInitial Evaluation CostFollow up Visit CostTotal Out Of Pocket Cost
San Francisco, California$300$225$525
New York City, New York$185$110$295
Boston, Massachusetts$285$160$445
Seattle, Washington$240$130$370

*These numbers reflect the average of five psychiatric clinics within each respective city. The price will most likely vary clinic by clinic but should be within the range of these numbers. Additionally, sliding-scale options were not taken into consideration. Follow-up visits are based on 60-min sessions.

If you're looking for specific clinics or costs, we've gathered 5 from each of the cities to give you a starting point.

Out of Pocket (OOP) Psychiatrist Costs from 5 Clinics in Major Cities

City, StateClinicInitial Evaluation CostFollow up Visit CostTotal Out of Pocket Cost

 

 

 

San Francisco, CA

Savant Care$500$200$700
California Pacific Medical Center$300$100-$250$400-$550
Gateway Psychiatric Services$100$250$350
Access Insititute for Mental Health$300$300$600
OC Psychiatrist, INC.$300$150$450

 

 

 

New York, NY

Mass General Brigham$80Based on Income$80+
South End Psychiatry$150 (plus $99- $149 /month)$150$150 (plus $99- $149 /month)
Chelsea Clinic$175$75$250
Freedom Trail Clinic$150$75$225
Divine Care Health and Wellness$375$150$525

 

 

 

Boston, MA

Metropolitan Center for Mental Health$415$230$645
Boston Medical Center Outpatient Clinic$370$250$620
Mindful Care$200$75$275
Inwood Clinic$200$100$300
Quintessence Psychiatry$250$150$400

 

 

 

Seattle, WA

SeaMar Community Health Center$20 - $175$20 - $100$40-$275

Psychiatry Northwest

Seattle NTC

$300$150 - $250$450-$550
Grey Matters Clinic$350$75$425
UW Outpatient$250$75$325
Psychiatry Clinic$140$150$290

*These numbers reflect the cost of five psychiatric clinics within each respective city.

The Cost of a Psychiatrist With Insurance 

Health insurance more often than not covers psychiatrist visits. There are both in-network and out-of-network psychiatrists.  If one is under an HMO plan they have to first see their General Practitioner for a referral to a psychiatrist for services to be covered. They will often assign one or allow you to pick from a predetermined list of in-network HMO providers. 

If you have PPO insurance, you are free to go to whomever you would like who is contracted with your insurance. You may also choose to go see someone out of network. If you do, Dr. Mitch Keil advises requesting a "Superbill" from your psychiatrist to provide to the claims department of your insurance company. An insurance company will often reimburse a portion of that fee especially if one has good PPO coverage and they have met their deductible for the year. Otherwise, the fee one pays will work up against that deductible for the year. 

Medicare and Medicaid both provide coverage for psychiatry. Under Medicare Part B, coverage is provided for the following outpatient mental health services:

  • Psychiatric evaluation
  • Medication management
  • Administration of certain medications, such as injections
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Partial hospitalization
  • 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 is 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
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Free and Low-Cost Alternatives

Many mental health practices will offer sliding-scale payment plans, but the cost of psychiatric care can still be expensive. There are a few options to explore to find affordable mental health care:

  • Virtual Psychiatry
  • Academic Psychiatric Hospitals
  • Free and Charitable Clinics
  • Checking with your employer to see if you have mental health access through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • Visiting government-funded health centers or clinics, where you can access low-cost or free mental or behavioral health services
  • Finding a non-profit in your area that offers more affordable options
  • Applying for disability benefits if your mental health condition is preventing you from working or maintaining a job

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a free and confidential national helpline that operates a 24/7 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service program. If one does not have health insurance, SAMHSA will help connect them with their respective state office, which is in charge of state-funded treatment options. The operator may also direct one to healthcare providers who charge on a sliding fee scale or take Medicare or Medicaid. If one does have health insurance, SAMHSA will give guidance on how to contact one’s insurer to obtain a list of participating medical practitioners and hospitals.

Cost of Seeing a Psychiatrist Without Insurance Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Consider this additional information when it comes to the cost of a psychiatrist without insurance.

Will I have to take medication if I see a psychiatrist?

No, not necessarily. Psychiatrists look at all the factors that may be contributing to the difficulty one is experiencing. Once a psychiatrist completes a psychiatric evaluation they can make treatment recommendations. Their treatment plans may or may not include medication, but psychiatrists will work collaboratively with you to understand your goals for treatment. 

Are there other ways to save money when seeing a psychiatrist?

Yes, if you are currently being treated by a psychiatrist and are looking for ways to reduce costs, a great option to explore would be generic prescription medications. Generic medications typically cost about 80 to 85 percent less than the same brand-name drug and could save you hundreds (maybe even thousands) on your psychiatrist-prescribed medication. 

Will I have to see a psychiatrist indefinitely?

This is a complex question as different people have different goals when seeing a psychiatrist. Some people see psychiatrists forever, some see them only once, and most people fall somewhere in between. Some go for months or years before either feeling like their goals were met and discontinuing therapy, or giving up because they feel therapy was not helpful. 

Bottom Line

Psychiatrists are medical professionals who prescribe medication and can provide mental health therapy. They are qualified to diagnose and treat mental health disorders, provide psychological counseling, and prescribe medication. Seeking mental health help is a big step, but a necessary one to start feeling better and obtain more in control of one’s life. Choosing the right psychiatrist is a uniquely personal decision that is extremely important. Whether one is insured or uninsured, an affordable psychiatrist is out there and willing to help, along with a team of other mental health professionals. 

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