Common Questions

Does Medicaid Cover Therapy?

Medicaid covers therapy as an optional benefit in many states, which means states are not federally required to cover therapy. Many state Medicaid programs do cover therapy, however, and you can ues this guide to find out if therapy is covered in your state.

Therapy and other mental health services are optional Medicaid benefits, which means Medicaid covers therapy in some states, but may not cover it in others.

Medicaid benefits can be lumped into two separate categories:

  • Mandatory benefits that are federally required of each state Medicaid program to provide
  • Optional benefits, which are left up to each state to decide to cover or not 

It is not required for a state Medicaid program to provide any coverage for therapy, but many states choose to do so anyway. 

To learn more about if and how your state Medicaid program covers therapy, check your “Summary of Benefits” document that was mailed to you along with your Medicaid card. If you can’t find that document or need assistance understanding it, contact your state Medicaid program.

Does Medicaid cover seeing a therapist?

It’s common for Medicaid benefits to include coverage of visits with a therapist. There may or may not be a small copayment, and you may be limited to a certain number of covered sessions per year. Medicaid therapy coverage can vary from one state to another.

Medicaid may also often cover virtual visits with a therapist conducted online or over the phone. Coverage of virtual therapy sessions – also referred to as telehealth, telemedicine or teletherapy – was enhanced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, so check with your state Medicaid program to see if virtual therapy sessions are still covered where you live. 

Medicaid typically does not cover visits with certain types of therapists such as life coaches, career counseling or holistic treatments like massage therapy, acupuncture or aromatherapy.

What treatments does Medicaid cover?

The mental health and behavioral health treatments that are covered by Medicaid will vary by state, but may include any of the following:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Mindfulness practices
  • Child-parent psychotherapy
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Medicaid benefits can be used to treat a variety of conditions such as depression, anxiety, alcohol and substance abuse, grief and loss, eating disorders, learning disabilities and more. 

How much does Medicaid pay for counseling?

Like therapy, counseling sessions may or may not require a copayment, and there may be a cap on the number of counseling sessions you may receive in a year. Consult your state’s Medicaid program for more information. 

What else does Medicaid cover for mental health?

Aside from therapy and counseling sessions, some state Medicaid programs may cover:

  • Medication management
  • Social work services
  • Peer support services
  • Substance use disorder treatment

Therapy and mental health coverage through Medicaid-Medicare plans

Medicaid beneficiaries who are also eligible for Medicare may be able to enroll in a certain type of private Medicare plan called a Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plan. These plans are designed for people with certain health, living or financial circumstances, and one of the available plans is a Dual-eligible Special Needs Plan (D-SNP). 

These plans are designed for people on both Medicare and Medicaid and feature a set of benefits that cater to those specific needs. Plan members do not pay a monthly premium. 

If you are eligible for Medicare, speak to a licensed insurance agent to find out if Dual-eligible Special Needs Plans are available in your area and how they might cover therapy and other mental health benefits. 

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Christian

About the author

Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com. He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.

His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.

Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.

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