Depression and anxiety are debilitating mental health conditions that affect every aspect of life. Symptoms can range from irritability and lack of motivation to severe depressive episodes that leave you feeling helpless. For about 10% of Americans over the age of 12, antidepressants are an essential part of an effective treatment plan that reduces symptom severity and improves their quality of life. But if you don’t have insurance to see a doctor or fill a prescription for antidepressants, what can you do? Don’t let fear set in. There are several ways to see a doctor and find affordable ways to get antidepressants without insurance. And there may be health insurance options designed to fit your unique situation.
Keep reading to learn how to get antidepressants if you don’t have health insurance coverage.
How to See a Doctor without Insurance
In order to access antidepressants, you’ll need to get a prescription. With insurance, you’d typically schedule an appointment with your family physician or behavioral health provider. In this scenario, there is a cap as to how much you will spend on the visit. Sometimes, your health insurance deductible will apply, at which time you’d be responsible only for the contracted rate for the visit if seeing a network provider.
For others who are in the partial coverage stage of a health plan, only a co-payment or coinsurance for the visit might apply. If you don’t have insurance, it might be scary to think that you have to pay full price to see a physician — especially since the visit itself (which may be a few hundred dollars) doesn’t include the cost of medication.
Here are a few options to explore if you need to see a physician for antidepressants.
1. Your Personal Physician
If you already have a relationship with your physician, start there first. There may be sliding scale options or payment arrangements that can be made if you cannot pay the full visit cost at the time of service. Since your regular physician already knows you and your medical history, they are less likely to require additional testing or visits.
2. Your Local Health Department
Offering free and sliding scale services, your local health department is a treasure trove of resources for those who don’t have insurance (and even those who do). Check your local health department’s website or contact the office directly. To find the closest health department to you, search the National Association of County and City Health Officials’ (NACCHO) directory.
3. Behavioral Health Centers
Most metropolitan areas have at least one community mental health center that provides services to area residents. Community mental health centers typically offer outpatient, intensive, and, sometimes, inpatient services for people needing behavioral health care. A community-based behavioral health center typically offers free or discounted services based on income and need.
4. Urgent Care or Convenience Clinics
When you’re not experiencing an emergency but have limited access to other resources, urgent care or convenience clinics may be the best option. Without insurance, you will be responsible for the clinic visit fees. But unless you have additional medical concerns or need lab work, the fee should be flat, and the clinic may make a payment arrangement.
5. If You’re Experiencing an Emergency, Go to the Hospital
Hospitals are required to see you whether or not you have insurance, thanks to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTLA). Going to the hospital should be your last resort and is only appropriate if you’re experiencing a psychiatric emergency. If you don’t have insurance, hospital financial advocates can help you research and apply for assistance.
What to Do If You’re Already on Antidepressants
Maybe you’ve been on antidepressants for a while and already know what works for you. If that’s the case, you’re at an advantage. Unlike someone new to antidepressants without insurance, you don’t need to go through a period of trial and error. Here are a few things you should do to make sure you don’t run out of medication:
How to Pay for Antidepressants with No Insurance Coverage
The thought of walking into a pharmacy and being asked to pay a sky-high price for medication gives rise to more anxiety than anyone needs. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can save a significant amount of money at the pharmacy counter. Consider your options if you are prescribed generic or name-brand medication.
Much like how Kleenex tissues or Band-Aid bandages will run you more than ones featuring the supermarket’s label, brand-name drugs cost more than generics. This is because the patent for the drug has not yet expired, and drug companies need to recover the cost of research, development, and marketing. Here’s how to save money when purchasing brand-name antidepressants.
• Ask your doctor for samples. Physicians build relationships with pharmaceutical reps to
learn about the latest developments in pharmaceutical technology. That sometimes means
physicians are given samples of new medications to improve patient access to care. Ask
your provider if they have samples available.
• Check with the pharmaceutical company. Many pharmaceutical companies offer
assistance for patients who need to take brand-name medication. After application and
approval, you may be able to receive monthly or quarterly supplies of the medication at
free or at a reduced cost.
• Look for coupons. Typically available online, coupons for newer medications may be
printed or emailed after a short questionnaire. Go directly to the manufacturer’s website
to learn if coupons are available.
• Inquire about pharmacy-specific memberships. Some larger retail pharmacies offer
membership programs that provide deep discounts on both brand and generic drugs.
Usually, these programs will require a monthly or annual fee and should not be considered
equivalent to health insurance. Ask your pharmacist if this type of program is available.
If you’re prescribed an older antidepressant that is available in generic form, you can save some serious money at the pharmacy. Consider these options before turning in your prescription:
• Flat fees for generic medication. Some pharmacies have in-house drug lists that include
generic antidepressants for as little as a few dollars for a 30-day supply.
• Retail price for generic medication. If your pharmacy doesn’t offer flat-fee pricing, it’s a
safe bet that generic medication’s retail cost is still relatively low.
• Use your HSA. If you recently changed jobs, you may still have funds available for use in
your Health Savings Account. Use your HSA instead of taking money out of your budget to
pay for prescriptions.
• Shop around for the best price. There are multiple web and mobile apps, like GoodRx, that can help you find the lowest cost for medication in your
area. Check out the competition before dropping off your prescription.
Health Insurance Options for People without Coverage
Believe it or not, there are a variety of health insurance plans designed to meet a range of needs. From self-employment to short-term coverage, there may be a plan that is more affordable than paying out of pocket for mental health services and antidepressants while offering broader health coverage. Here are a few basic coverage types to consider:
- Short-term insurance plans are ideal for people who are in-between jobs (and insurance coverage) or who plan to be unemployed for up to six months.
- Individual insurance plans offer extensive coverage and flexibility while often being more affordable than footing every medical bill yourself.
- Small-business health insurance plans are perfect if you’re launching a business (even with only one employee) and looking for health insurance that fits your budget.
Find a Health Insurance Plan that’s Right for You
Whether you’re waiting for a new plan to start from a recently acquired job or are unsure when you’ll have health coverage again, there is a health insurance option that will work for you. Let us provide an unbiased review of the best health insurance plans for your needs. Contact us today!