How Much Does a Psychiatrist Cost Without Insurance in 2022?

By Alicia Wooldridge, MD
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July 7, 2022

A psychiatrist is someone who has completed school as a medical doctor and then gone on for more training in psychiatry. 

They specialize in treating the physical and mental symptoms of behavioral health disorders.

Without insurance, a person can expect to pay somewhere between $80-$200 on average per session with a psychiatrist. 

However, the initial evaluation, which includes the diagnosis process, can cost anywhere up to $500. 

In this article, I’ll cover what psychiatrists do and how the cost of treatment is determined.

You can also learn tips for getting insurance as well as how to find discounted or alternative treatment. 

What is a Psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has completed an additional four years of medical training in psychiatry. 

They specialize in diagnosing, treating, and preventing substance misuse disorders and mental illness.

Because of their extensive training, psychiatrists are qualified to assess mental and physical symptoms accompanying psychological disturbances.  

There are many reasons why people seek the help of a psychiatrist. 

Examples of situations when a psychiatrist can help include:

  • Panic attacks
  • Hallucinations
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Hearing voices
  • Severe sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Constant anxiety 
  • Severe mood swings
  • Eating disorders
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Cost of a Psychiatrist Without Insurance

How much it costs to see a psychiatrist without insurance depends on several factors, such as where you live, the type of treatment you need, and other factors. 

According to the Affordable Care Act, all health insurance plans are required to cover some behavioral health services.

However, coverage can be limited. With or without insurance, you may have to pay some out-of-pocket costs. 

Typically, the initial consultation is a more extended visit that may entail the psychiatrist taking your vital signs, drawing labs, and performing psychological testing to best understand and treat your condition. 

Because the initial visit is more extended, it can cost somewhere between $300 to $500.

After a diagnosis, the psychiatrist will review a treatment plan with you that includes what type of therapy will be used, how many sessions will most likely be needed, and if any medications will be prescribed. 

The following treatment sessions can range in price between $80 to $200 on average.

Factors That Affect the Price of a Psychiatrist

There are several factors affecting how much a psychiatrist charges for their services.

Let’s look into those factors now.

Type of Psychiatrist

The experience of the psychiatrist can play a large role in how much they charge for treatment sessions. 

Those who have worked in the mental health field for a long time may charge more than those who have not worked as many years.

In addition, past experience can create a better reputation in the professional community.

Some psychiatrists pursue additional education or training in particular areas.

Specializing in an area can also lead to higher costs for treatment. 

Some specialties include working with a specific group of people, for example, children or the elderly.

Some psychiatrists specialize in particular disorders such as schizophrenia.

Treatment costs can fluctuate based on demand for that specific specialty. 

Location

The location of the psychiatrist can also be a factor in how much they charge for their services. 

For example, in major cities, a psychiatrist may charge more because of the cost of living; psychiatrists may also charge more due to demand if they are in an area where not many other psychiatrists work. 

Not only does the geographical location of the psychiatrist affect the cost, but where they work may also be a factor. 

Some psychiatrists work in clinics, schools, hospitals, or other organizations.

In these situations, the cost of the treatment is set by the governing body they work for. 

A psychiatrist who has a private practice will set prices according to what other psychiatrists in the area are charging. 

Services Provided

Along with psychiatric testing, a psychiatrist also looks at the physical symptoms you are experiencing.

Some mental health disorders stem from medical conditions. 

Because a psychiatrist is also a medical doctor, they can help you with both.

Services provided may include lab testing and a complete physical examination. These tests will have costs separate from the cost of the visit. 

Once a diagnosis is made, the psychiatrist may determine that you would benefit from medication. If so, they can write you a prescription for the new medication.

Treatment Plan

Once your diagnosis is made, the psychiatrist will determine your treatment plan.

This can include psychotherapy (talk therapy), taking medications, or other forms of treatment such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). 

There are different types of psychotherapy available.

No one type is better than another; however, the psychiatrist will choose the therapy type depending upon the condition and circumstances.

Some psychotherapies focus more on the past, while others focus more on the present. 

Some of the most common therapies include:

  • Psychodynamic therapy helps you understand yourself more fully by uncovering and dealing with unconscious conflicts.
  • Interpersonal therapy helps improve the relationships with those around you and your capacity to relate to others. 
  • Cognitive therapy helps you recognize thinking patterns that are ineffective or harmful and teaches you how to change them. 
  • Behavioral therapy helps you understand harmful or inappropriate behaviors and how you can substitute them for positive ones. 

Tips to Save Money on a Psychiatrist

If the cost of seeing a psychiatrist is more than you can afford, there are some alternatives you can look into for mental health care.

For those who need to see a psychiatrist, here are some tips for finding low-cost or free options. 

Find Insurance That Covers Psychiatry 

There are several ways you can get insurance that can help cover psychiatric treatment. 

  • Medicaid is a combination federal-state program to help give insurance coverage to people with low income. They are the largest insurance group in the U.S. Eligibility is determined by income, family size, and other factors. 
  • Medicare is a federal program that provides health insurance for people over the age of 65, along with younger people who have long-term disabilities such as ALS or kidney failure. In addition, some of their plans cover inpatient and outpatient mental health services. 
  • The Affordable Care Act marketplace is where you can search for health insurance plans or see if you qualify to change plans. These plans are required to cover mental health services including psychotherapy. 
  • Young adult coverage is for people under the age of 26. If you fall in this category you may be able to remain on your parent’s health insurance plan which might cover mental health services. 
  • Student health insurance may be available if you are enrolled at a university, college, or other educational institution. Sometimes these facilities also offer reduced-cost or free psychiatric services. 
  • Employee assistance programs are sometimes available through your job. Some companies offer access to mental health services, many times free of charge. Check with your HR department to see if this is available to you. 

Look for a Sliding Scale Fee

Some psychologists offer sliding-scale rates based on income. These are typically private practice psychologists. 

Doing this method helps them to succeed by being able to treat a wide variety of people.

Those who can pay more help cover the cost of those who would not otherwise be able to afford treatment. 

Most therapists don’t want to turn people away simply because they can’t afford treatment.

Sliding scales vary depending on the psychiatrist and their website will usually mention if it’s something they offer. But even if they don’t advertise this, it never hurts to ask. 

Choose an Online Psychiatrist

Telehealth services have greatly expanded and become much easier since COVID-19.

From the comfort of your own home, you can chat live online with a psychiatrist.

They can perform psychotherapy online and write you prescriptions. Sometimes this method is also more affordable.

Psychiatrist Alternatives

If you are interested in mental health services, psychiatrists are not the only ones who can help you.

There are other professionals who are also trained to help with certain mental health needs. 

  • On-campus support: If you attend a college or university, your educational institution may provide free or greatly reduced cost of mental health services. Check with the on-campus clinic to find out if these services are offered. 
  • Group therapy or support groups: Group therapy or support groups are other options for some mental health conditions. Talking in a group with other people going through the same issues as you, along with a trained moderator, can be a great help.
  • Developing healthy coping skills: It’s also important to develop good coping skills in your day-to-day routine. Get adequate sleep each night, and try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Eat a balanced diet and get your body moving a few times each week. 
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When to See a Psychiatrist

Professional psychiatric help should be sought out if you or someone you care about is experiencing mental or emotional problems. 

An evaluation by a family physician or psychiatrist can help identify if you need medication or further help.

A person experiencing one or more of the following warning signs should be evaluated as soon as possible to start taking steps toward better health:

  • Personality change
  • Strange or grandiose ideas
  • Inability to perform daily activities or cope with problems
  • Excessive anxiety
  • Severe depression or apathy
  • Thoughts of suicide or harming oneself
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Misuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Extreme anger, hostility, or violent behavior

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to be evaluated by a psychiatrist?
The average fee to see a psychiatrist falls somewhere between $80-$200 per session. Plan on paying up to $500 for the initial evaluation which is a long and in-depth appointment.
Will a psychiatrist prescribe medication on the first visit?
On the first visit, your psychiatrist will be performing a full range of evaluations including a physical evaluation, psychological testing, along with laboratory testing. If a psychiatrist makes a diagnosis and believes that medication may be helpful, they may prescribe medication for you. When you call to make your appointment, you can ask them if they typically write prescriptions during the first meeting.
Is it more expensive to see a psychiatrist than a therapist?
You can expect to pay more for a psychiatric visit than other therapists. This is because of the extensive training psychologists have gone through and their ability to treat both the physical and mental symptoms of a mental or behavioral disorder.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Alicia Wooldridge, MD

Dr. Alicia Wooldridge is a board certified Family Medicine physician with over a decade of experience.

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