Medicare Part B helps pay for outpatient mental health services in the following ways:
Medicare will pay 80 percent of its approved amount for your initial visit to a mental health professional to determine your diagnosis, and for brief appointments to manage your medications. For other appointments after your initial visit, Medicare will pay 65 percent of its approved amount in 2013. You or your supplemental insurer will be responsible for the remainder of the bill.
The services Medicare covers include:
- Individual and group therapy
- Family counseling to help with your treatment
- Tests to make sure you are getting the right care
- Activity therapies, such as art, dance or music therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Training and education (such as training on how to inject a needed medication or education about your condition)
- Substance abuse treatment
- Laboratory tests
- Prescription drugs that you cannot administer yourself, such as injections that a doctor must give you
You can get mental health services in an outpatient hospital program, a doctor’s or therapist’s office or a clinic. Medicare will help pay for outpatient mental health services you receive from:
- general practitioners
- nurse practitioners
- physicians’ assistants
- clinical psychologists
- clinical social workers
- clinical nurse specialists
If you see non-medical doctors (such as psychologists or clinical social workers), make sure that these providers are Medicare-certified and take assignment, meaning that they accept Medicare's approved amount as payment in full. Medicare will only pay for the services of non-medical doctors if they accept Medicare and take assignment (participating providers).
Medicare will pay for the services of medical doctors (such as psychiatrists) who do not take Medicare assignment (non-participating providers), but these doctors can charge you up to 15 percent above Medicare's approved amount in addition to the Medicare coinsurance. Some states have stricter limits on how much doctors can charge you. Click here for more information on the different types of Medicare providers.
To save money, only use doctors who take assignment.
Annual Preventive Screening for Depression
Medicare covers yearly screenings to detect depression that you receive in doctor’s offices or other primary care settings that can assure appropriate diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. For more information on Medicare’s coverage of the yearly depression screening, please click here.
*Keep in mind that Medicare prescription drug plans (Part D) must cover almost all antidepressant, antipsychotic, and anticonvulsant presription drugs used to treat mental health conditions.