How Much Does a Psychiatrist Cost Without Insurance?

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If you're experiencing a significant life change or any number of mental health concerns, such as symptoms of anxiety or depression, you should consider visiting a psychiatrist. This trained doctor can provide a mental health diagnosis, intervention, treatment, medication management, and ongoing care. While their services may be expensive, there's a strong chance your health plan covers some, if not all, of the costs.

How Much Does a Psychiatrist Cost Without Insurance?

While the Affordable Care Act requires health plans to cover behavioral health services, coverage can be limited. If you don’t have insurance or your insurance doesn’t cover your psychiatry appointments, you could end up paying up to $500 or more for a full consultation, which may be necessary to receive a diagnosis.

The costs will vary depending on your location, the psychiatrist’s qualifications and years in practice, and the length and frequency of sessions. You may also see price differences for in-person and telehealth visits. We explore the cost of visiting a psychiatrist and what you should consider before scheduling your first appointment.

Cost of Visiting a Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who go through four years of medical school and at least four years in a residency, with a focus on mental health. Psychiatrists can diagnose, treat, and prescribe to patients. When evaluating an individual's mental health, a psychiatrist will assess both the psychological and physical aspects of the problem. They may use any number of tests to assess an individual, such as a mental status evaluation (MSE), psychosis test, electroencephalogram (EEG), or a blood test. 

A psychiatrist is not a psychologist. If you want to talk to a mental health professional about your work, personal life, relationships, or behavioral issues, you should consider initially visiting a psychologist, which should be more affordable than seeing a psychiatrist. If you want to understand your mental health symptoms better or pursue comprehensive treatment, a psychiatrist consultation is recommended.

If you wish to schedule routine visits following the initial consultation, you'll have to pay per hour or session. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that psychiatrists earn an average of $104.38 per hour.

If you don't have insurance, you could end up paying up to $200 or more for a regular visit to the psychiatrist. Rates are usually higher for psychiatrists than psychologists or other therapists because of their extensive training and backgrounds.

Costs will vary and depend significantly on the following factors:

  • The provider
  • The doctor's training and years in practice
  • The location of the practice
  • The length of a session
  • The doctor's specialization
  • If the consultation is conducted in-person or online

Mental health care can be pricey, with or without insurance, and you may end up owing more than you expect. If you're considering a psychiatrist consultation, here are some costs to keep in mind: 

Referral Costs

Some psychiatrists require referrals from primary care physicians. If this is the case, you may have to schedule a visit with your PCP first, which can be an extra cost. If a referral isn’t required, you can schedule a consultation right away.

Treatment Costs

If you received a prescription for medication or certain other treatments, there may be expenses associated with this. While some of these services and treatments are covered by health insurance, many are not, so even if you have a health plan, you may end up paying high out-of-pocket costs.

Psychiatrist Costs With Insurance

Your first psychiatrist consultation should be covered if you have health insurance, though not all health plans cover psychiatrist visits. Before booking your appointment, check your health plan to see what's covered, who might be covered, and how many visits you have covered before you're expected to pay yourself.

Here's what you should keep in mind:

  • If you visit an out-of-network provider, you may not receive as much (or any) coverage from your health insurance provider. For the most affordable option, look for in-network providers.
  • If you have a high deductible, such as $5,000, you will likely owe the total amount of your psychiatrist visit unless you've already reached your deductible.
  • If you have a co-payment, then you will owe that at the time of your visit. It will typically be higher for a psychiatrist because they are considered a specialty physician. 

More and more health plans are covering certain behavioral health services and treatments, like transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), but these may require a certain diagnosis or prior authorization before treatment is covered. Check with your health insurance provider to figure out what's covered and what isn't.

Verywell Mind's Cost of Therapy Survey found that even with insurance, many Americans in therapy struggle with accessibility of treatment options:

  • 30% say they’ve encountered a lack of appointment availability
  • 27% have had difficulty finding a mental health professional who is taking new patients
  • 24% have had difficulty finding an in-network mental health professional


Alternative Payment Options for Psychiatric Care

Your mental health needs to be a priority. If you're experiencing severe mental health symptoms, you should visit a psychiatrist to see what the underlying issue is and how to address it properly. If you don't have insurance or can't afford out-of-pocket costs, you should consider alternative payment options.

Many mental health practices offer sliding-scale payment plans, but this isn't always enough to afford the cost of service. If you need financial assistance for psychiatric treatment, you should consider:

  • Enrolling in a state-sponsored health plan, such as Medicaid, if you're eligible
  • Using HSA or FSA funds, which allow you to use pre-taxed funds
  • Checking with your employer to see if you have mental health access through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • Acquiring a personal loan or using a credit card
  • Visiting government-funded health centers or clinics, where you can access low-cost or free mental or behavioral health services 
  • Finding a non-profit in your area that offers more affordable options
  • Seeing a psychiatrist on an online platform like Talkspace or BetterHelp
  • Applying for disability benefits if your mental health condition is preventing you from working or maintaining a job

If you need mental health resources or support, please visit our National Healthline Database

A Word From Verywell Mind

Getting the mental health care you need isn't easy, but ad ding in financial strain makes it that much harder. Don't suffer in silence. If you are experiencing mental or physical symptoms of a mental health disorder or illness, seek professional help. Many resources are available online, in your local community, and through the state and federal government.

A psychiatrist can offer you qualified and comprehensive mental health support. If you're experiencing extreme mood changes, if you no longer find enjoyment in your days, if you're feeling excessive worry or fear, or any other number of symptoms, book an appointment with a psychiatrist. They can help you unpack these feelings and figure out what's causing these symptoms.

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  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics. Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020. March 2021. https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291223.htm