4 Best Online Therapy Platforms That Take Insurance

May 14, 2024
Fact Checked
We researched the best online therapy platforms and personally tested several that take insurance. Here are our top four picks.
Written by Kate Van Dis
Medically Reviewed by Marni Amsellem, PhD

Getting mental health care when you need it is an essential part of your overall health care plan, but for 42% of Americans National Council for Mental Wellbeing. Study Reveals Lack of Access as Root Cause for Mental Health Crisis in America. , cost and poor insurance coverage are major barriers to care. While having health coverage helps, people who use insurance still experience roadblocks, including long waitlists American Psychological Association. Psychologists struggle to meet demand amid mental health crisis: 2022 COVID-19 Practitioner Impact Survey. and a lack of in-network providers.

Online therapy platforms can expand your provider network, reducing wait times and providing affordable, timely access to the mental health care you need. 

To help you find the right online therapy for you, our Reviews Team tested several platforms ourselves. We identified four of the best platforms that take insurance, including three that accept Medicare. 

Best product overall

Brightside is our top pick for online therapy that takes insurance because it offers talk therapy, psychiatric consults, and medication management If a psychiatric provider determines medication to treat mental illness is appropriate, they will prescribe the selected medication(s) that can be picked up at a pharmacy. They will also work with you to monitor how the medication is working, if you on a single platform. Brightside takes several major insurance carriers, including some Medicare Advantage plans and original Medicare Part B in select states. 

1
Best Overall
9.2
Excellent
Brightside
Offers therapy, psychiatry, and medication management
Accepts major insurance plans and some Medicare Advantage plans
Available in all 50 states
Same-day and same-week appointments available
Our top pick

What to do if you are in crisis

Online therapy is not right for those in crisis. Anyone experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm should call the 988 Suicide Prevention Lifeline to connect to more immediate help and then get connected to local mental health services.

Our top picks

Table 1, Compare the best online therapy platforms that take insurance in 2024

Platform Insurance accepted Session formats Offers medication Visit Site
Aetna, Allegiance, Anthem CA, Cigna/Evernorth, Optum/United Healthcare, Medicare in select states, and more Live video and unlimited messaging Yes Visit Site
Aetna, BlueCross BlueShield, Cigna, Gatorcare, Optum, Premera, and more Live video, phone call, or chat, and unlimited messaging Yes Visit Site
Aetna, Ambetter, several BlueCross BlueShield plans, Cigna, Humana, Medicare, Medicaid, and more* Audio, video, or in-person sessions Yes Visit Site
Aetna, BlueCross BlueShield, Cigna, Humana, certain Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans, United Healthcare, and more Live video and unlimited messaging Yes Visit Site

Best online therapy that takes insurance in 2024

Best Overall: Brightside

Best Overall
9.2 Excellent
Full cost without insurance: $95–$349 per month
Accepts Medicare: Yes, in some states
Average copay: Varies by insurance plan
Session format options: Live video, unlimited text messaging between appointments
Session length: 30 minutes for psychiatry, 45 minutes for therapy
9.2 Excellent
Why we chose this platform

Brightside is the Reviews Team’s top pick for online therapy that takes insurance because they offer several mental health care services on one platform: therapy, psychiatry consults, and medication management. We like that Brightside accepts many types of insurance—including some Medicare Advantage plans and original Medicare in some states—and that they are available in all 50 states.

Pros and cons
Pros Same-day or same-week appointments Accepts insurance, including Medicare Advantage plans and original Medicare in select states, and certain Medicaid plans Therapy and psychiatry on one platform Cons Can’t schedule multiple appointments at once Matched with a therapist by the platform, instead of choosing your own
Subscriptions offered

Brightside offers three subscription plans—one is for medication only, one is for therapy only, and one is for online therapy plus medication. If you use insurance, you will be responsible for paying any copays, coinsurance, deductibles, and prescription costs detailed by your plan, but your insurance will cover the rest as long as it considers Brightside an in-network provider. With insurance, you don’t need to subscribe to a monthly plan.

Here are the total monthly costs for each Brightside plan without using insurance:

  • Psychiatry plan: $95
    • Message your psychiatric provider any time
    • Includes an initial evaluation to determine if medication to treat mental illness is appropriate, and, if so, the psychiatrist will prescribe the selected medication(s) that can be picked up at your pharmacy.
  • Therapy plan: $299
    • Includes four 45-minute video therapy sessions per month
    • Can message your therapist at any time
    • Can purchase additional sessions for $59
  • Psychiatry + Therapy plan: $349
    • Includes four 45-minute video therapy sessions
    • Can message your therapist and psychiatric provider at any time
    • Schedule follow-up video appointments with your psychiatric provider at any time

On their website, Brightside states that psychiatric providers will respond to messages within 72 hours, and therapists will message you back within 24 hours on weekdays.

Brightspace also offers a Crisis Care plan, paid for with insurance only. This plan may be helpful for people with a risk of suicide, but it is not a replacement for emergency psychiatric care. If you’re having suicidal thoughts or are considering self-harm, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline now at 988.

Additional details

Brightside offers 30-minute psychiatric consults and 45-minute talk therapy sessions. To get started with a Brightside provider, you’ll complete a brief mental health assessment (it takes just a couple of minutes). Then, you’ll enter your personal information, including insurance details, if applicable. From there, Brightside will confirm your insurance coverage or prompt you to choose a monthly plan and enter payment information.

Based on the information you share about mental health concerns and mental health coverage, Brightside will match you with a therapist. If you don’t feel a connection with your first therapist, it’s easy to switch. Just contact customer service and ask for a new provider. You’ll then receive a selection of therapists to choose from via email.

Tester insights

In our survey of 200 Brightside users, 76.5% of respondents used health insurance to help pay for Brightside. Brightside users appreciated the following features included in Brightside plans:

  • Anxiety and depression symptom-tracking: 75% liked it and found it useful
  • Self-care videos: 65% liked them and used them often
  • Unlimited messaging with provider: 61% liked this feature and used it often

Customer service

Get in touch with Brightside customer service via:

  • Phone: (415-360-3348) available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday
  • Email: (support@brightside.com)
  • Members can get help through their account on the Brightside website or Brightside mobile app

When our Reviews Team contacted support over email, we received a reply within one business day.

Payment options

Here are the various ways you can pay for services on the Brightside platform:

  • Credit card (Visa or Mastercard) or debit card
  • HSA/FSA A Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account is a type of savings account that allows you to set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for medical expenses.
  • Insurance, including Aetna, Allegiance, Cigna/Evernorth, some Medicare Advantage plans, original Medicare in select states, and certain Medicaid plans.
Our top pick

Best for Couples: Talkspace

Best for Couples
8.9 Great
Full cost without insurance: $276–$1,260 per month
Accepts Medicare: No
Average copay: $30
Session format options: Live video, phone call, or chat, and unlimited messaging between sessions
Session length: 30–50 minutes
$85 off your first month with code: NCOA85
8.9 Great
Why we chose this platform

We chose Talkspace as the best option for couples because they make it easy for couples to find and connect with a provider who has experience in relationship counseling. We liked the Talkspace onboarding and scheduling process—it was quick and easy to navigate, and the platform will confirm whether or not they take your insurance early in the sign-up process.

Pros and cons
Pros Easy to find out if your sessions will be covered by insurance Choose your own therapist from a list of recommendations Specialty in couples therapy Cons Doesn’t accept Medicare or Medicaid Browser is not as reliable as the app for connecting with therapist Not all plans include live sessions
Subscriptions offered

Talkspace offers individual therapy, couples therapy, and teen therapy. If your insurance plan covers mental health services on Talkspace, you’ll be responsible for your insurance plan’s copay for each session. If you’re paying out-of-pocket, you can choose from the following Talkspace plans:

  • Individual Therapy and Therapy for Teens (ages 13–17):
    • Unlimited messaging: starts at $276 per month
    • Four live video sessions and unlimited messaging: starts at $396 per month
    • Four live video sessions, unlimited messaging, and weekly workshops: starts at $436 per month
  • Couples Therapy:
  • Four live video sessions and unlimited messaging: $436 per month

In addition to therapy, Talkspace also offers various psychiatry plans where providers can prescribe medication if needed:

  • Psychiatry (for first-time clients):
    • Psychiatry initial evaluation and one follow-up session: $435
    • Psychiatry initial evaluation and three follow-up sessions: $725
  • Psychiatry (for clients who have completed an initial session):
    • Three follow-up sessions: $475
    • Six follow-up sessions: $890
    • Nine follow-up sessions: $1,260

When testing Talkspace, we found the Talkspace app to be more user-friendly than the browser version of the platform for logging into sessions.

Additional details

To get started on Talkspace with insurance, you’ll start by entering the details of your insurance plan. At this point, Talkspace can’t confirm how much you’ll pay per session, if anything, but they can confirm that their platform accepts your plan. If you’re not using insurance to pay, get started by selecting a plan. Next, Talkspace will ask a series of questions about your medical history and use your answers to match you with several providers. Pick the provider that best fits your needs and availability, and schedule your first session. If no one on the provided list seems like a good fit, contact customer service to request more choices.

Talkspace offers individual therapy for adults, teen therapy for teenagers age 13–17, and couples therapy. Because it’s a specialty area, it can be challenging to find a couples counselor with availability in your area, especially if you need an in-network provider. Talkspace can help expand your search. The couples therapy plan includes four live video sessions per month and unlimited messaging with your therapist.

The Reviews Team also rates the Talkspace platform as one of the best for text therapy. Their text therapy plan allows users to send their therapist a message by text, video, or phone any time of day. While therapists do not respond in real time to messages, most users we surveyed were satisfied with their therapist’s responsiveness. Our tester’s therapist responded at least one time each day.

Tester insights

In our survey of 200 Talkspace users, 60% of respondents used health insurance to help pay for their mental health care. Here’s how users felt about various aspects of their Talkspace plan:

  • Non-live unlimited messaging: 62% liked it and found it useful
  • Therapist responsiveness via messages: 73% were satisfied or somewhat satisfied
  • Clinical progress tracker to monitor symptoms and goals: 67% liked this feature and found it useful

Customer service

Reach Talkspace customer service through email (support@talkspace.com) or by submitting a support ticket through the app. You can also visit the Help Center to find the answers to common questions.

The Reviews Team’s experience with customer service was overall positive, as we received helpful responses within one to two business days. We did wish, however, that there was a customer service phone number to shorten the time it takes to resolve concerns.

Payment options

Here are the various ways you can pay for services on the Brightside platform:

  • Any major credit card or debit card
  • HSA/FSA account
  • Insurance, including Aetna, BlueCross BlueShield in certain states, Gatorcare, Optum, Premera, and more
  • Some companies, like Pax8, partner with Talkspace to provide mental health services to employees

Best Online Platform That Prescribes Medication: Talkiatry  

Best Online Platform That Prescribes Medication
8.6 Great
Full cost without insurance: Talkiatry is an in-network only service
Accepts Medicare: Yes
Average co-pay: $30
Session format options: Live video
Session length: 60 minutes for initial session
8.6 Great
Why we chose this platform

We picked Talkiatry as the best platform for medication prescribing because their platform—which specializes solely in online psychiatric care—helps shorten the time it takes to find and connect with a licensed in-network psychiatrist. Their 60-minute initial sessions and 30-minute follow-up appointments allow providers to get to know you and prescribe medications more responsibly. We also like that they take Medicare Part B and some Medicare Advantage plans.

Pros and cons
Pros Accepts Medicare and select Medicaid plans Short wait times for in-network psychiatrists 60-minute initial session Cons Provider availability varies by location Not available in all 50 states No monthly plans; fees will vary by insurance plan
Subscriptions offered

Talkiatry does not offer a subscription plan, and you must have insurance to use the platform. There is no monthly fee. Instead, you’ll pay per appointment through the Talkiatry platform. Cost per session will vary depending on your insurance plan.

Additional details

Due to a growing shortage of psychiatrists Psychiatric Services. Project Workforce of Psychiatrists in the United States: A Population Analysis there are some U.S. counties without a single psychiatrist University of Michigan School of Public Health Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center. Estimating the Distribution of the Psychiatric Subspecialist Workforce. . This shortage can lead to long wait times, especially if you can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket costs and need an in-network provider. Talkiatry helps to shorten the time it takes to connect with a psychiatrist who accepts your insurance.

According to Ashley Peña, LCSW, and Executive Director at Mission Connection, online therapy not only addresses issues like long wait times, but also “enhances engagement and provides overall support for those dealing with obstacles like transportation limitations, lack of child care, busy work schedules, and geographical constraints.”

To get started with Talkiatry, enter your location and type of insurance and then answer a few clinical questions. If your insurance is accepted by Talkiatry, you’ll be matched with up to five providers based on your needs. Your initial session will be 60 minutes long, and follow-up sessions will be 30 minutes long.

Talkiatry specializes in treatments for the following mental health conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Insomnia
  • Substance use disorder

Depending on your state’s laws, Talkiatry may be able to prescribe controlled substances such as benzodiazepines (like Xanax or Valium) or stimulants (like Adderall or Ritalin). As with any medication, controlled substances will only be prescribed if the licensed psychiatrist who evaluates you deems them appropriate for your treatment plan.

Tester insights

The Talkiatry sign-up process is quick and easy, and we found the website to be user-friendly. The Reviews Team also likes the message Talkiatry shares on their website about their commitment to “dismantling stigma” and “treating every patient like a human.”

We did encounter an issue when searching for a provider using Medicare coverage. The website invites users to “see if we take your plan in just a few seconds” by selecting your type of insurance (in the first drop-down menu) and your specific plan (in the second drop-down menu). When we entered Medicare as our insurer, the only option in the second drop-down menu was Railroad Medicare (for railroad worker beneficiaries). We contacted a Talkiatry customer service representative who assured us that Talkiatry actually takes many Medicare plans. The customer service agent advised us to select Railroad Medicare, and then enter the details of our Medicare plan in subsequent steps.

Customer service

Reach Talkiatry customer service through:

Payment options

Talkiatry accepts more than 60 insurance plans, including Aetna, BlueCross BlueShield, Cigna, and Medicare Part B and certain Medicare Advantage plans. You may have to pay a copay for each session or pay a larger amount towards your deductible. Talkiatry also offers payment plans for balances over $250.

Best Online Therapy With In-Person Options: Zocdoc  

Best Online Therapy With In-Person Options
8.7 Great
Full cost without insurance: Varies by provider
Accepts Medicare: Many Zocdoc providers accept Medicare
Average co-pay: Varies by insurance plan
Session format options: Live video or in-person
Session length: Varies by provider
8.7 Great
Why we chose this platform

We chose Zocdoc as one of the best online therapy platforms that takes insurance because it’s a good option for people who need the convenience of online therapy but would like to occasionally meet their therapist in person. Zocdoc, a booking service connecting you to in-network providers in your area, allows you to choose a provider based on your type of insurance and several other filters, including language spoken and area of specialty.

Pros and cons
Pros Choose your own provider Shorter wait times for in-network providers Wide range of services, including therapy, psychiatry, and couples counseling Cons In-network provider availability varies by area Delays in appointment confirmation can occur based on provider communication No messaging or monthly plans offered
Subscriptions offered

Zocdoc does not offer subscriptions. Instead, they offer a marketplace of providers in your area. Start by filling out the three main fields on their website’s homepage: condition, procedure, or doctor; ZIP code; and insurance provider. From there, you’ll be directed to a list of providers meeting your needs.

Copays for providers will vary depending on your insurance plan. Some providers list their out-of-pocket fees. Payment for sessions is submitted through the provider, not through Zocdoc. For this reason, the Reviews Team recommends vetting the provider you choose by calling or emailing the provider’s office before you submit billing information.

Additional details

Zocdoc is a booking platform connecting you to primary care doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, and more. In many cases, finding a provider on Zocdoc can reduce the time you have to wait for an in-network provider, but the availability of providers who take your insurance will vary according to your geographic area.

When we asked Zocdoc to find a psychiatrist who accepts Medicare and has experience in treating depression, here’s what we found in four random locations:

  • In the Detroit, Michigan area, we found four providers, three of whom had availability in the next two to three weeks.
  • In the Jacksonville, Florida area, we found 61 providers, several of whom offered same-day appointments.
  • In the Eugene, Oregon area, we found 20 providers, a few with same-day appointments.
  • In the Tulsa, Oklahoma area, we found just three providers, one of whom had a next-day appointment.

While the Reviews Team likes the opportunity to choose your own provider, the number of options Zocdoc can provide will vary greatly based on where you live. In areas where several in-network providers are available, you may have the opportunity to attend both virtual and in-person appointments, according to your preference.

Keep in mind, Zocdoc will book your appointment for you, but the appointment is not finalized until it’s confirmed by the provider. You’ll receive separate correspondence from the provider via email or phone, and your appointment and billing will be set up through the provider, not Zocdoc. This adds an extra layer of communication to your booking experience, including emails, phone calls, and additional paperwork. Still, the additional correspondence may be worth it if you can find a same-day or same-week appointment with an in-network provider.

Tester insights

In our 2023 survey of 1,000 online therapy users, 72% of Zocdoc users used insurance to pay for online therapy.

Here are a few more insights from the Zocdoc users who took our survey:

  • 94% of Zocdoc users rated the ability to choose their own mental health care provider as extremely important or very important.
  • 47% of Zocdoc users connected with a mental health provider in less than a week of signing up; 18% were able to connect with a provider in less than a day.
  • 99% of Zocdoc users said they were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their mental health provider.

Customer service

Reach Zocdoc customer service through:

  • Phone: (855-962-3621)
  • Email: (service@zocdoc.com)
  • Start a chat during normal business hours

The Reviews Team’s experience with customer service was positive. When a tester encountered issues with a provider, they were able to contact the provider and promptly resolve the issue.

Payment options

On Zocdoc, you pay through the provider, not through the platform, so payment methods will vary depending on the provider.

Medicare and Medicaid coverage

Original Medicare covers telehealth services for mental health or substance use disorders. Medicare.gov. Telehealth. . When you register with an online therapy platform, check with customer service to determine if the platform bills Medicare and if the therapist you are seeing is eligible to bill Medicare. For Medicare-eligible couples seeking therapy, it’s important to know that marriage and family therapists (MFTs) and licensed mental health counselors (LMHCs) can now bill Medicare for services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Marriage and Family Therapists & Mental Health Counselors. , as of January 2024.

Because Medicaid is administered by states, services covered by your Medicaid plan will vary depending on where you live. In many cases, Medicaid will cover certain telehealth services Medicaid.gov. Telehealth. like online therapy. Check your Medicaid benefits carefully and talk with your Medicaid care manager to determine what is covered in your state.

In our recommendations for online therapy that takes insurance, we prioritized platforms that expand accessibility by accepting Medicare and Medicaid. Here are the platforms we recommend that take Medicare or Medicaid:

How we chose the best online therapy platforms that take insurance

Based on our independent research and consultations with mental health experts, our Reviews Team determined the following factors to be important when looking for online therapy:

We also consulted with independent mental health professionals for their insights into the benefits and drawbacks of online psychiatry to aid our reviews.

Bottom line

Online therapy platforms that take insurance can shorten wait times and make it easier to find an in-network provider. Because of its wide selection of therapists and insurance partners, we picked Brightside as the best online therapy that takes insurance. If you’re using Medicare to pay for services, Talkiatry and Zocdoc may also be good options, though Talkiatry exclusively offers psychiatry services and isn’t available in every state. For couples seeking therapy, we recommend Talkspace.

Medicaid and Medicare expansions have helped make telehealth services available to more people. Since the Reviews Team began researching online therapy in 2021, we’ve seen online therapy platforms expand their availability of in-network providers. Online therapy that takes insurance “ensures that individuals who otherwise have no access to [mental health care services] can now benefit from them,” Peña said. “When telehealth providers are appropriately trained and equipped, online therapy proves to be just as effective as traditional in-person sessions.”

Frequently asked questions

Yes. According to Medicare.gov, Medicare will cover telehealth services for the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of a mental health or substance use disorder.

Many insurance companies cover telehealth treatment for mental health and substance use disorders. The best way to find out what your insurance covers is to call your insurer.

Copays for mental health insurance vary according to your insurance plan. For online therapy on Talkspace, most insured users pay a copay of $25 or less. Copays for psychiatry may be higher than those for psychotherapy.

Brightside, Talkspace, Talkiatry, Zocdoc, MDLive, and Thriveworks take select insurance plans, including Aetna, Cigna, and some BlueCross BlueShield plans.

Have questions about this review? Email us at reviewsteam@ncoa.org.

Sources

  1. National Council for Mental Wellbeing. Study Reveals Lack of Access as Root Cause for Mental Health Crisis in America. Found on the internet at https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/news/lack-of-access-root-cause-mental-health-crisis-in-america/ 
  2. American Psychological Association. Psychologists struggle to meet demand amid mental health crisis: 2022 COVID-19 Practitioner Impact Survey. Found on the internet at https://www.apa.org/pubs/reports/practitioner/2022-covid-psychologist-workload 
  3. Psychiatric Services. Project Workforce of Psychiatrists in the United States: A Population Analysis. Found on the internet at https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ps.201700344
  4. University of Michigan School of Public Health Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center. Estimating the Distribution of the Psychiatric Subspecialist Workforce. Found on the internet at https://behavioralhealthworkforce.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Y3-FA2-P2-Psych-Sub_Full-Report-FINAL2.19.2019.pdf
  5. Medicare.gov. Telehealth. Found on the internet at https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/telehealth
  6. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Marriage and Family Therapists & Mental Health Counselors. Found on the internet at https://www.cms.gov/medicare/payment/fee-schedules/physician-fee-schedule/marriage-and-family-therapists-mental-health-counselors
  7. Medicaid.gov. Telehealth. Found on the internet at https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/benefits/telehealth/index.html
Kate Van Dis
Kate Van Dis Author
Kate Van Dis is a health writer in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She has written for various audiences on health & wellness, education, and aging. Her current focus is on assisted living, home care, and other extra-care housing options for older adults.
Marni Amsellem Headshot
Marni Amsellem Medical Reviewer
Marni Amsellem, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist, consultant, and writer. Her areas of specialty include health and health behavior, mental health, stress and coping, and the practice of therapy across diverse settings in health and wellness. Her clinical practice centers around helping individuals and groups navigate change and other challenges, modify behaviors, and build resilience and form healthier relationships. She has honed her expertise in teletherapy and blended modalities of clinical care over the course of many years as a practitioner and consultant. She completed her undergraduate degree at Cornell University and doctorate work in clinical psychology at Washington University in St. Louis.
Kathleen Cameron
Kathleen Cameron Reviewer
Kathleen Cameron, BSPharm, MPH, has more than 25 years of experience in the health care field as a pharmacist, researcher, and program director focusing on falls prevention, geriatric pharmacotherapy, mental health, long-term services and supports, and caregiving. Cameron is Senior Director of the NCOA Center for Healthy Aging, where she provides subject matter expertise on health care programmatic and policy related issues and oversees the Modernizing Senior Center Resource Center.