Understand Insurance for Off-Campus Providers
It’s important to understand your insurance to determine what costs will be covered if you make an appointment with a off-campus mental health care provider.
Know Your Coverage
You are not required to use your insurance to pay for private off-campus care, but most people do. You are responsible for paying any fees you incur that are not covered by your mental health insurance.
If you have the Student Health Insurance plan and need to visit an off-campus provider, you must have a referral from the Colonial Health Center to waive your deductible when paying an off-campus provider. Contact us for a Referral Authorization form.
If you do not have the GW Student Health Insurance plan, but have another insurance policy, you need to determine your policy's requirements by contacting your insurer directly. If you are on your parents' plan, you may have to speak with your parents to gain access to your insurance.
Contact us if you need help deciding how to have this conversation with your parents, or if you want us to speak to your parents with your written permission.
Common Insurance Terms
These common insurance terms will help you understand the details of your coverage:
- Claim: The request submitted to your insurance company by either you or your provider, asking them to help pay for the services you received. Some policies require that the provider submit the claim and be reimbursed directly by the insurance company; other policies require that you pay your provider and then submit a claim.
- Deductible: The amount you must pay out-of-pocket before your insurance company will begin to help cover your bills. For example, if your policy has a $100 deductible, you must pay the first $100 of the fees you incur for that insurance year.
- Co-pay: The amount you pay for a service in addition to whatever your insurance company pays. For example, your insurance company may require that you co-pay a certain amount (i.e. $20) or a certain percentage (i.e. 20% of the bill) per visit, while the company pays the rest.
- Benefits: The types of services and costs that your insurance policy covers. For example, some policies have no outpatient mental health benefits, require a referral/approval in advance, have a "cap" or upper limit of payment or require that you use only their "preferred" providers. Determine the benefits of your policy by contacting your insurance company or by reading your policy carefully.
Before You Schedule an Off-Campus Mental Health Appointment
Prior to scheduling an appointment with a therapist it is important for you to contact your insurance company and find out what they will pay for and what your financial responsibilities will be. Ask questions to gather important information about your mental health insurance benefits to make informed decisions about therapy.
- Does my plan cover mental health outpatient visits?
- Do I have to see someone on the provider list?
- Is there anything I need to do to have my counseling sessions covered by insurance, if I am living out of state?
- How does my coverage differ if I see a participating provider versus a provider "outside the network"?
- For how many sessions can I be seen?
- What is the percentage or dollar amount for my co-pay for sessions?
- Do I have a deductible that I have to satisfy? If yes, how much?
- Is there a pre-existing conditions clause for my plan? If yes, what is the length of time I have to wait prior to my insurance covering a pre-existing problem?
- Is my plan currently active? If not, when will it be activated?
- Do I have to fill out any paperwork or be pre-certified prior to seeing a therapist?
If you are submitting claims:
- What information will you need from my therapist in order for my claims to be paid?
- Where do I send my claims?
- Approximately how long does it take to receive a reimbursement?
Find a Mental Health Provider
Visit your insurance carrier’s website to search for a mental health provider. If you’re searching for a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist, you’ll likely need to use "behavioral health" as a search parameter. Contact us if you’d like a list of providers who are known by our staff members.
You can take advantage of our counseling services but we also provide referrals to longer-term community services if you are in need of more support.