Health insurance has helped many people get life saving medical attention that they could never have afforded on their own. Health insurance can be a very good thing.
At the same time, any good thing can be misused or abused...and then it's not a good thing. CEOs of health insurance companies have become greedy--seeking profits over providing quality care. CEO bonuses are in the millions while policy holders are denied benefits and forced to take substandard care through network providers. It's immoral, and so we dropped participation in health insurance networks.
Read more: Health Insurance 101
That's the bottom line. Here's more detail:
Most often when people speak of the "bottom line" they are referring to the financial bottom line -- either a company's net earnings or a person's out-of-pocket costs. "So, bottom line, what's it gonna' cost me to come to Cedarbrook for counseling?"
At Cedarbrook, we believe there are many "bottom lines" -- a financial bottom line, an emotional bottom line, a relationship bottom line, an ethical bottom line, and so forth. On this page, we'll just give the basic bottom line -- short sweet and to the point. You can visit our other pages to see the reasons and the "other bottom lines".
I became a psychologist to help people. Here's my personal mission statement:
At the same time, if I don't pay attention to the business aspect of my practice, I won't be able to help anyone -- and my family will be hungry.
At Cedarbrook, except in rare emergencies, we schedule at least 25 minutes between clients. This provides a number of advantages.
It provides client confidentiality – you will not bump into your friends or neighbors sitting in the waiting room.
It gives the provider ample time to mentally and emotionally prepare for you and your session. Many research studies show that one of the the most important variables for quality in counseling or therapy is the “therapeutic alliance” (relationship with the counselor). Having time to prepare for you and your time with your counselor allows the psychologist to be mentally and emotionally available to you -- improving the therapeutic alliance.
It allows for a reasonable number of clients. Although there are many skills, attitudes, and knowledge required for a counselor, counseling also involves an emotional connection with the client and vicarious experiences of his/her difficulties -- which can be draining. At Cedarbrook, we see 20 – 25 clients per week which is considered optimal for quality services. There are other agencies that expect providers to see 30 or more clients per week, which I consider to be impractical and even unethical.
At Cedarbrook, we control all the variables – the fees, the number of clients, and the overhead expenses.
Yes, our fees are higher than anywhere else – but so is our service. We see fewer clients, which allows for higher quality services to you (see above). Our overhead expenses are higher, and we think it's worth it in these ways:
We provide a relaxed and comfortable environment. We believe you are sharing with us some of the most intimate details of your life. The trust you give and the things you share deserve a place worthy of the experience.
The artwork in our office is original.
Our furniture is reasonably new, high quality, and comfortable.
The rooms are insulated and soundproof.
We hire the most competent staff who share the Cedarbrook vision. On the rare occasion you would interact with another staff person, you are treated with dignity and respect and with the highest level of competence.
When needed, we use the latest and most comprehensive psychological testing available. Annual fees and continual upgrades increase our costs but allow us to be on the leading edge in testing and assessment.
We take more than the required amount of Continuing Education for licensure each year – and we provide continuing education for others. Continuing education keeps us up on the latest improvements in the field.
At Cedarbrook, it is our goal to provide the best services to meet your needs. Quality requires going above and beyond the “usual and customary” services allowed by health insurance contracts. Unfortunately, insurance company payments are inadequate to provide quality services. In addition, many insurers have been involved in price-fixing as evidenced by their settlements with New York State Attorney General in 2009. So the truth is that "usual and customary" payments are not "usual and customary" -- they were set ("fixed") by the health insurance company in order to increase their profits.
Some insurance plans have both in-network coverage and out-of-network coverage. Providers who participate in networks agree to accept reduced fees from members of those networks. "In the old days" network payments were somewhat reasonable so most providers enrolled in the networks. Providers may have believed that getting "referrals" from health insurance companies meant that they would have to do less advertising and balanced out with the reduced fees they would receive. What we didn't realize is that this was the first step in looking at a "volume practice" rather than a "value practice".
For consumers, members generally received quality care from network providers (since "everyone" was in the network). This developed into a mindset that consumers did not seek providers outside of their network because there really wasn't a need to do so.
Two main things have changed.
First, over the years, network payments have not increased enough to allow mental health providers to provide quality services.
Secondly, insurance company out-of-network benefits have been manipulated so that the average consumer can not afford to visit an out-of-network provider. Although 70% of insured working Americans pay higher premiums to have out-of-network benefits -- insurance companies actively discourage or do not allow members to take advantage of those out-of-network benefits.
You determine value by a number of factors -- results, costs, and quality of services are among those. While our costs are higher than many ($194 per session) we believe our results and quality balance that out.
Read more: Counseling Payment and Practices.
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~ Wilhelm von Humboldt(1767 - 1835)
Relationships for Life
Healthy Brains for All Ages
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