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Managing Managed Care

Phobia Treatment and Insurance


Updated March 30, 2010

When President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, near-universal health care became a reality. Under the terms of the Act, popularly known as the Obama Plan, all Americans will be eligible for low-cost insurance choices that provide comprehensive coverage for both treatment and prevention of mental illness as well as physical illness.

Although the full provisions of the Obama Plan do not take effect until 2014, the little-known Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 went into effect in January 2010. Under the terms of that Act, insurance companies that choose to offer mental health benefits must treat mental disorders identically to physical illnesses. If your insurer provides mental health coverage, revisit your plan details to discover your current benefits.

Nonetheless, many of today's most popular insurance plans simply do not offer mental health benefits. Even worse, many Americans have no insurance at all, and more are losing their insurance every day. Until the Obama Plan is fully implemented, thinking outside the box is the key to getting mental health services. Provided here is an overview of possible options for treating your phobia within the limits of your insurance and personal budget.

Brief Therapy

Many Employee Assistance Programs cover three mental health visits per year. Although this does not sound like a lot, many brief therapies are psychoeducational in nature, designed to help you learn the skills necessary to manage your phobia on your own. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is currently one of the most popular brief therapy options for phobias.

Prescription from Your Family Doctor

According to the medical model, phobias are primarily rooted in brain chemistry irregularities. Although a combination of medication and therapy is often recommended, many sufferers find relief solely through medication. If you are unable to visit a mental health professional, describe your phobia to your family doctor. He or she may be able to prescribe helpful medication.

Community Mental Health Center

Although not as common as they once were, community mental health centers can be found in many cities and towns. These centers are generally designed to treat those with little or no insurance, and may charge fees on a sliding scale. This means that clients are charged according to their ability to pay.


If your phobia is extremely common, such as a fear of flying, you may be able to find a reasonably priced seminar. Usually sponsored by local psychologists or community mental health centers, seminars are a form of group therapy that focuses on a single phobia. Techniques are often based in cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Before signing up for a seminar, be sure to investigate the credentials of the sponsoring individual or group. Although many excellent seminars exist, there are scam artists in every field. Make sure that a licensed and reputable mental health professional is in charge.

The recent trend among insurance companies has been to move away from paying for mental health treatment, but thankfully that movement has been stopped. During the transition, creative thinking is the key to success. There are numerous treatment options for those who have little or no mental health insurance. Do not let concerns over your ability to pay prevent you from seeking the phobia treatment that you need.


United States Department of Health and Human Services: National Mental Health Information Center. How to Pay for Mental Health Services. Retrieved March 30, 2010 from http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/ken98-0050/default.asp

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