MDLIVE Review

Therapy, psychiatry, and medical care from home

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3.6

MDLIVE

MDLIVE Logo

MD LIVE

MDLIVE is a convenient service for clients who would benefit from talk therapy, psychiatry, and non-emergency medical visits through one company.

Pros
  • Accepts many insurance plans

  • Offers medication management services

  • You can choose your own provider

  • You pay per session booked

  • Staff of fully licensed mental health professionals

  • Offers behavioral health services too for people 10 and older

  • Has a customer service hotline

Cons
  • No subscription plans or discounts

  • No free trials or consultations

  • Does not offer couples, family, or group counseling

  • Limited FAQs and other information on the website

  • Therapist and psychiatry availability and wait times vary by state

  • Less affordable without insurance

3.6

MDLIVE

MDLIVE Logo

MD LIVE

Randy Parker and Dr. Steve Gurland launched MDLIVE in 2009 to provide accessible telemedicine to people who need convenient, affordable care. Its platform connects patients with expert doctors, psychiatrists, and therapists who are fully certified and/or licensed by their respective states—and because this is all done virtually, the company is able to reduce session costs. 

MDLIVE started offering basic therapy services in 2010, but its mental health services were solidified in 2014 when the company acquired another teletherapy company, Breakthrough Behavioral, giving its clients access to a broader network of behavioral health service providers and a greater variety of services. 

Parker has since moved on to found another telemedicine platform, while Dr. Gurland continues to use his expertise in internal medicine as the president and senior medical director of MDLIVE Medical Group PA. In April 2021, MDLIVE was acquired by Evernorth, which is Cigna Corporation’s health services portfolio. 

To fairly and thoroughly review MDLIVE against its competitors, we surveyed 100 current users from 33 different online therapy platforms in order to gain insight into their experiences. We also sent a questionnaire directly to each company to get more detailed information about their offerings. These surveys and questionnaires allowed us to directly compare offerings, quality of service, and client satisfaction across companies. We used the feedback from the client questionnaire to evaluate user satisfaction and perception of quality. 

Despite multiple attempts to contact MDLIVE, they did not respond to our questionnaire. This hindered our ability to gain as much insight into the company and goals as we were able to with some of its competitors. We had to rely exclusively on user survey data and our own research in order to assess the company. Keep reading to see how MDLIVE stacks up against its online therapy competition. 

First Impressions and Sign-up Process

MDLIVE’s homepage is visually appealing, with light colors and large photos and illustrations. The behavioral health landing page breaks down the basics of its services: accepted insurance plans, how to sign up for MDLIVE and see your new provider, and the answers to 10 frequently asked questions. There are several orange “schedule a visit,” “create my account,” and “find my therapist now” buttons throughout this page, but the overall effect is less aggressive than many other online platforms. The prices of each type of appointment are clearly listed on this page and in the behavioral health FAQs, which is much more transparent than some of MDLIVE’s competitors' sites (like Teladoc, which only displays its rates after you sign up). 

MDLIVE Homepage

Ten FAQs at the bottom of the page briefly answer some common questions like, “I have never had a therapy session before. What should I expect?” But the answers are very general and don’t offer many details beyond saying that the company has expert therapists who will help you learn to cope and work towards your goals. MDLIVE’s general FAQs page is longer, with short answers to questions about its providers' availability, how to use the platform, and minimum system requirements for MDLIVE video calls.

MDLIVE, unlike some other companies we reviewed, doesn’t require users to create accounts before they can view the rates per session type; this likely gives MDLIVE a leg up in terms of transparency for therapy seekers who are still window shopping.

Another useful source of information is MDLIVE’s blog, which appears to be updated frequently with advice and information about timely issues like cold and flu season.  

Sixty-six percent of the users surveyed reported that they either had a very good or excellent experience signing up with MDLIVE.

The first step is to create an account by entering your email, password, and date of birth. (The page helpfully notes that you can add dependents to your account later, which may help head off some confusion for new users who are interested in this feature.) 

After supplying your name, gender, and zip code, the next step is to check your coverage with MDLIVE’s lookup tool. You can skip this step if you’re not using insurance or if you don’t have the information on hand at the moment.

Once you verify your email address, you’ll create a username, accept the company’s privacy policy, terms of use, informed consent, and HIPAA statement.

Finally, the portal will ask you which user on your account needs an appointment and what type This page displays the current wait time to see a doctor (an MD, not a psychiatrist) which is usually within about 10 to 30 minutes; these doctors are available 24/7. Although MDLIVE aims for short wait times between signing up and seeing your therapy provider for the first time, if there aren’t many professionals available in your state, you may end up waiting a few weeks till the next available appointment.

Our user survey reported a variety of wait times:

  • Thirty-one percent said they were able to meet with their new therapists within 24 hours.
  • Twenty-four percent were able to schedule sessions within two days.
  • Twenty-nine percent saw their new therapists within the same week. 
  • Sixteen percent, however, had to wait up to two weeks or more.

As of early October 2021, though, we noticed that the wait times vary drastically by state. For instance, 11 New York therapists were available to treat anxiety within four weeks—10 of them within the next 10 days. Out of 24 psychiatrists in the state, six were available within the next two days. Meanwhile, California had long lists of therapists and psychiatrists, but the next available appointments with either kind of provider were four weeks in the future. 

MDIVE offers its services to U.S. territories as well, at least judging by their inclusion in the dropdown menu where you select your state. When we looked, Puerto Rico had five therapists, none of whom had any availability, and zero psychiatrists. There were no providers at all in Guam, Palau, and the Northern Mariana Islands, respectively. 

MDLIVE’s site is missing a feature that’s nearly ubiquitous among the company’s competitors: a list of crisis hotlines and/or other databases of local resources. Instead, MDLIVE’s FAQs only instruct the reader to call 911 or seek other medical attention. The lack of additional mental health resources seems like a miss consider nearly all of its competitors post this information.

Cost 

Fifty-eight percent of client respondents to our survey rated the cost for MDLIVE’s services to be either very good or excellent. However, the average across all services we reviewed was 68%, suggesting that in general, users were not as satisfied with the prices as they were at other companies. It’s worth also noting that 84% of our MDLIVE respondents reported household incomes of $75,000 a year or over—and 9% had incomes of $200,000 or more. If a lower-than-average number of our relatively well-off respondents consider MDLIVE to be a good value, this may signal less affordability for people who are on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale.

What Are MDLIVE’s Prices?


Without insurance, MDLIVE’s out-of-pocket prices are less expensive than the average hourly rates for traditional, in-office therapy and psychiatric sessions, but are still more expensive than most subscription-based online therapy services.

MDLIVE’s prices are as follows:

  • Therapy sessions (which last 45 to 60 minutes) cost $108. 
  • Initial 30-minute psychiatric appointments cost $284.
  • Follow-up psychiatry sessions cost $108 per 15-minute session.

MDLIVE’s rates are the same regardless of location, even though the cost of living is drastically different in different states and US territories.

Does MDLIVE offer Subscription Plans?

Users purchase individual sessions, and there are no subscription plans.

Is There a Free Trial?

The company does not offer free consultations.

Does MDLIVE Accept Insurance?

Yes, MDLIVE provides an insurance lookup tool during the sign-up process, and its customer service agents can help you find this information over the phone. You can also call the customer service number on your insurance card.

The company also works with some Medicare and Medicaid plans, which is a big bonus for some therapy seekers.

Seventy-four percent of the users we surveyed were able to obtain at least some financial reimbursement from their insurance company, reporting that they spent an average of $149.17 per month out-of-pocket. This is lower than the average amount of $209.56 spent by users of all 33 companies.

Can You Change or Cancel Your Subscription?

Sessions are purchased individually, so there is no need to cancel anything.

Are There Discounts Available?

The site notes that many healthcare systems will cover most or all of your session costs, but you can also find coupon codes online.

Ease of Use

Although the scheduling process is a little longer than other companies we reviewed, MDLIVE makes it easy to request to see a doctor or psychiatrist and schedule therapy sessions right from your private portal. Just log into your account and you’ll see an icon for every person using this account under the words, “Who needs help today?” 

Eighty percent of those surveyed thought the platform was either very good or excellent in terms of user-friendliness and ease.

The site will determine where it seems like you’re located, but if it gets it wrong, you can set your location manually. MDLIVE is available in all 50 states, as well as U.S. territories like Guam and the Federated States of Micronesia.

On the next page, click “Schedule a visit” under the type of session you want—medical, therapy, psychiatry, or dermatology. This page lists your cost per visit for each so that there are no surprises later. After you click “Continue,” you’ll be asked to provide a reason for your visit. A few of MDLIVE’s policies are listed below the search bar, reminding users that providers can’t complete paperwork or prescribe controlled substances.

Once you’re done on that page, you’ll proceed to a brief review of your general health: allergies, current medications, medical conditions, surgical history, and body measurements, from which the page calculates your body mass index (BMI). 

Unfortunately, this step in the process may be triggering for people who have eating disorders or body dysmorphia, especially for those who are overweight; in a physical office setting, it’s easier to be weighed without seeing the numbers, which can help minimize relapses in recovery.

If you know your current vital signs—blood pressure, temperature, etc.—there’s an optional section to submit this information.

The next step is a quick questionnaire that asks you to explain why you’re seeking MDLIVE’s behavioral healthcare (emotional problems, relationship issues, substance abuse, and other conditions). You’ll also indicate if you have any issues with alcohol, anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, or panic attacks, or if you’ve been hospitalized for mental health treatment. There are a few brief questions about family psychiatric history, after which you can request a provider who is a man or woman (which may appeal less to therapy seekers who would prefer to work with transgender and/or nonbinary providers).

On the next page, enter your local pharmacy information so that MDLIVE providers can send prescriptions to those locations for pickup, or so that you can have them mailed directly to you. 

Finally, you’re able to see the providers currently available in your state. The availability and number of therapists vary based on your location—and in some locations, you will be met with a blank page, ostensibly indicating that no MDLIVE providers are located in that state. 

Appointments are available as online video calls and phone calls. Of the users we surveyed, 76% thought the video quality was either very good or excellent and 79% thought the same of the phone session quality.

While chat-based therapy isn’t listed as an option by the company, D/deaf and hard-of-hearing users can activate a chat function in their profiles’ accessibility settings.

We’re unsure whether or not that means that only disabled people can use live messaging, or if hearing people who prefer text-based therapy would be breaking any rules by trying to use it. If not, this is a bit odd compared to most of the other platforms we reviewed that offer chat capabilities to everyone. 

Because of MDLIVE’s commitment to collaborative care between physicians, psychiatrists, and therapists, the service is set up to make it easy to access your medical records or have them sent to another provider. Just request a release of information form from your medical professional, and they will do the rest. 

If you need to change providers, the process is much faster than some of the other companies we reviewed: Once you request to switch through your patient portal, you’ll see a list of all the therapists and psychiatrists available in your state, as well as the dates of their earliest appointments. This is an advantage over many of MDLIVE’s competitors that can only initiate this switch via contacting customer service, provide a list of three to five providers to choose from, or that instantly match you with a new therapist without your input at all.

Seventy-five percent of all survey respondents rated the switching process of their respective online therapy platforms as easy or very easy. However, only 66% of MDLIVE users said the same. Perhaps this is due to the very limited availability in some states; it’s feasible to try every therapist in such places without finding a good match.

Therapists’ Qualifications and Quality of Care

When it came to choosing MDLIVE, therapist qualifications and expertise played a significant role for 83% of the clients who responded to our survey. The only providers that MDLIVE connects clients with are physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists. Those looking for life coaches, nurse practitioners, business coaches, or dietitians—or those in need of urgent or emergency care—will have to look elsewhere.

According to the website, all of its board-certified therapists and psychologists are required to have been licensed in their respective states for at least four years prior to working with MDLIVE. Its board-certified psychiatrists and physicians must be at least four years post-residency. The company conducts background checks through the National Physician Data Base and the American Medical Association to verify licensing, training, education, and past work, and to flag any instances of malpractice. MDLIVE is also accredited by the American Telemedicine Association for the telehealth training all of its providers are required to complete.

Eighty-one percent said they found the therapists’ qualifications to be either very good or excellent.

The privacy policy notes that its practitioners are part of independent MDLIVE Medical Groups in different states. MDLIVE as a company is not ultimately responsible for any medical advice provided by its medical groups. 

Since the company did not respond to our questionnaire, we cannot say for certain how many providers are in its broader network. However, from our research, it appears that the number of available therapists and psychiatrists varies by location—from zero in Guam to nearly 30 each in places like New York and California—and so does the wait time to see them.

Ninety-five percent of respondents said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the therapist options, which is slightly higher than the average among all of the companies we reviewed.

You must sign up for an account in order to browse the therapists and psychiatrists in your state, but still, users who want to select their own provider—rather than having one assigned to them — will appreciate the ability to make that choice.

Like at most companies we reviewed, users at MDLIVE seem to try a few therapists before settling on the right one. Only one in 10 users told us they had stuck with the first provider they had seen, which sounds low, but actually is about average for all 33 companies. Thirty-five percent of MDLIVE respondents reported seeing two providers, 26% had seen three, and 29% saw four or more. 

While switching providers once or several times to find a good fit isn’t necessarily an indicator of poor therapist quality, the company seems to have a ways to go in terms of meeting its goal of provider continuity.

Types of Therapy Offered

Ninety-five percent of the MDLIVE users who responded to us rated the types of mental health services on offer as good, very good, or excellent. 

Some commonly used therapeutic techniques at MDLIVE include:

While MDLIVE’s telehealth treats over 80 medical conditions, some of the main issues its behavioral health services address are stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma. Depending on the provider, clients may also be able to get support around addiction, bipolar disorder, grief and loss, OCD, LGBTQIA+ issues, panic disorders, and phobias

MDLIVE is one of the few companies we reviewed that offers talk therapy, psychiatric services, non-urgent medical appointments, and medication management, which could be a big draw for those who prefer to have all of these taken care of under one roof.

However, the company’s providers do not specialize in relationship counseling, family dynamics, or life coaching.

Privacy Policies

The FAQs (briefly) note that MDLIVE is HIPAA compliant and takes many steps to protect client privacy and data; the answer to “Is my session safe and private?” is that confidentiality is one of the company's highest priorities.

The privacy policy—last revised in April 2020, at time of writing—states that: 

We have implemented measures designed to secure your Personal Data from accidental loss and from unauthorized access, use, alteration, and disclosure. We use application timeouts and encryption technology for information sent and received by us.

This is vague compared to most of the other companies reviewed, whose sites at least mention specific security measures such as 256-bit banking-grade encryption and distributed SSL servers.

In addition, as of early October 2021, the site says that the terms and conditions were last edited in October 2015. This seems odd, considering the more recent updates to the privacy policy.

MDLIVE warns that it cannot guarantee the information provided by its providers is accurate, nor that files its users download will not have viruses or other malware, nor that your data will never be compromised. Though it limits the data it shares with third parties, the company’s terms of use notes that its services should be used at your own risk.

According to the same page, the company uses optional text messaging to update you about your intake and send occasional messages. Text messaging cannot be encrypted, so this form of communication is not secure. The site keeps a record of the audio from each of your medical sessions for improvement and other analysis, though behavioral health visits are not recorded. 

The policy also includes some potentially confusing or concerning information: For instance, it notes that it uses the personal health info you submit, as well as the data the company collects about your app usage and your location, to help improve its services. But it also says that it “may convert [its] recordings to text and perform machine learning on data [the company] receive[s].” 

MDLIVE also states that it automatically collects information such as photos, audio and video clips, your contacts, and data from other apps on your device, via the use of cookies and other tracking technologies. You can request that the company not share your data with third parties—as well as provide a list of the disclosures it has made over the past year—but making this an opt-out choice may mislead privacy-minded customers. 

Additionally, not all features of the website or app work without access to your device’s real-time location; the same is also true for clients using ad blockers.

Another consideration for some therapy seekers: MDLIVE’s services are not anonymous. You must provide personally identifiable information, like the name on your payment card, billing address, and insurance policy information (if relevant).

If your provider decides you need a different form of therapy or medication management, they will refer you to a local resource who may be a better fit for your situation. The company will also submit reports to emergency services and law enforcement as required by law, particularly in cases of an active mental health crisis.

While MDLIVE offers therapy and psychiatric services to all ages, those under 18 must have a parent or legal guardian sign up for their account, give consent for the minor to use the service and its platform, and complete the intake questions. 

Because we don’t have any information straight from MDLIVE, it’s unclear if the policy allows children to fill out the intake questions on their own, or if parents/guardians must be present during that part of the process. If that’s the case, children and teenagers may feel pressured to minimize or hide their true mental health concerns. Other than small links to the terms of use and privacy policy on the account creation page, it’s not obvious who should be signing up for the account. It would be helpful if users who enter an age under 18 received a prompt explaining that only adults can create accounts. 

Additionally, the terms and conditions say that those under 18 may not use MDLIVE’s services without an adult being involved, but it does not explain the degree of involvement, how much communication with therapists this policy entails, or how account ownership is transferred upon turning 18. These ambiguities may deter younger therapy seekers from signing up (if they, in fact, have a choice in the matter at all).

Overall Client Satisfaction

Sixty-seven percent of MDLIVE users who responded to our survey rated MDLIVE’s services as either very good or excellent quality, and a nearly identical 65% said the service is a very good or excellent value. These ratings were, respectively, about 10% lower than the averages of all 33 companies.

Ninety-four percent of users reported being either likely or very likely to recommend someone like themselves to MDLIVE.

MDLIVE appears to be doing a good job of retaining its clients. Twenty-one percent of respondents reported being clients of under six months, 34% had used the service for six to 12 months, 36% were clients of one to two years, and 8% had used the company’s services for two to five years or longer. 

In fact, 90% told us they were likely or very likely to be working with a therapist from MDLIVE a year from now.

Seventy-three percent who had used other online therapy services said that MDLIVE was better or much better in comparison. 

Is MDLIVE Right for You?

MDLIVE is likely a good choice for you if you are in need of both therapy and psychiatry services. It might be particularly helpful to you if you have an insurance policy or health system that works with the company because you could have a copay as low as $0. The company is one of the few large telemedicine platforms that allows clients to select their own providers, unlike other companies, like BetterHelp and Calmerry, that use matching algorithms.

The company’s provider availability varies by state, though, so depending on where you live, you might be able to start your therapy and/or psychiatry sessions in just a few days—or it could take a month or more. It is true many in-person behavioral health clinics and individual providers have waitlists of double or triple that, so MDLIVE might still be a quicker option for you, though many of MDLIVE’s online competitors, like Talkspace, can get you seen much faster.

Users must be 18 years or older, though young people from 13 to 18 with parental consent may use the service through an account created by their parent or guardian. Though MDLIVE’s physicians can see patients of all ages, its behavioral health professionals cannot provide care to children under 13, even with parental consent.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that MDLIVE is not appropriate for emergencies such as psychosis, suicidal ideation, or other mental or physical health crises that require immediate care. In these situations, the site warns, call 911. Unlike most of the other services we reviewed, though, MDLIVE does not have a dedicated page with a list of hotlines and other resources—a somewhat odd omission.

MDLIVE vs. Amwell

Both MDLIVE and Amwell are pay-as-you-go referral networks that strive to connect clients with quality providers affordably and as quickly as possible. 

Unlike many of the other platforms we reviewed, the two companies also allow users to view and choose from all of the medical professionals available in their states, rather than using a matching algorithm. Both also have customer service lines, which is an advantage over platforms that only offer email-/chat-based support.

Both services offer medical as well as behavioral health services, giving them a distinct advantage over companies that only offer therapy.

MDLIVE’s services cover four areas: medical, therapy, psychiatry, and dermatology. Amwell offers medical, talk therapy, and psychiatric services, as well as support around specific issues like nutrition, breastfeeding, and pre- and post-natal care. Neither can provide group, relationship, or family counseling. 

Additionally, neither MDLIVE nor Amwell are emergency services, nor are they replacements for in-person primary care appointments and lab work.

Therapy sessions with both companies are at least 45 minutes long, and the psychiatry visits are the same at both: thirty minutes initially, then 15 minutes per follow-up session. MDLIVE’s platform offers phone and video sessions through its patient portal and app, though the site references a vague accessibility policy allowing d/Deaf and hard of hearing folks to use messaging. Amwell does not conduct sessions over live chat either.

Both have well-designed, fairly informative websites that let users check their insurance coverage, view the providers who are available in their states, and learn more about the conditions each can and cannot treat.

Both companies work with insurance providers and have very similar out-of-pocket rates:

  • MDLIVE charges $284 for initial psychiatric appointments, and $108 per session afterward. Its therapy sessions are $108 without insurance.
  • Amwell’s initial psychiatric appointments are $279, and follow-ups are $109. Its therapy rates range from $109 for a master’s-level provider to $129 for a therapist who has a doctorate or more.

Sixty-seven percent of MDLIVE respondents and 73% of Amwell users said the respective services were overall either very good or excellent. Ninety percent of MDLIVE clients were either likely or very likely to refer someone to the company, while a close 88% of Amwell users said the same. 

Both companies appear to be good at client retention. Ninety percent of MDLIVE users and 88% of Amwell respondents told us that they were either likely or very likely to still be seeing a therapist from the same service a year from now.

Online therapy seekers often try several services before they find one they like best, and clients of these two companies are no different. Compared to previous services they'd tried, 81% of Amwell users reported that services were either better or much better, while 73% of MDLIVE users thought the same about their own service. 

Final Verdict

MDLIVE may be a great option for those who like the convenience of medical, therapy, and psychiatry offered by the same platform. The company is in-network with many insurance companies, and many health care systems and insurance companies offer affordable or $0-copay telehealth directly through their own portals. It also works with some Medicare and Medicaid plans, which is an advantage compared to many of MDLIVE’s competitors that don’t.

If you don't have insurance, though, the out-of-pocket costs are more expensive than many of the online therapy companies we reviewed, especially if you book weekly. So if budget is a concern, you might want to consider another company. 

Methodology

Our methodology for evaluating online therapy companies is comprehensive and data-driven. To review the best online therapy programs, we sent questionnaires to 28 companies and surveyed 100 current users of each. This allowed us to directly and fairly compare services offered by gathering qualitative and quantitative data about each company and users’ experiences.

Specifically, we evaluated each company on website usability, sign-up process, subscription offerings, client privacy protections, and how easy it is to change therapists. We then looked at therapist qualifications, the types of therapy offered quality of care, client-therapist communication options, session length, and the therapist assignment process. Finally, we reviewed cost, value for money, whether the companies take insurance, overall user satisfaction, and the likelihood clients would recommend them. 

Specs

  • Product Name MDLIVE
  • Year Founded 2009
  • Insurance Accepted? Yes
  • Price Therapy: $108 per session; Psychiatry: $284 for initial sessions and $108 thereafter
  • HIPAA Compliant Yes
  • Platforms Live video, audio
  • Payment Options Major credit cards
  • App Available? Yes
Additional reporting by
Ray Finch
Ray Finch

Ray is a copy editor, fact-checker, mental health writer, and editorial producer with over five years of experience.

Learn about our editorial process
Edited by
Simone Scully
simone-scully-verywell

Simone is the health associate editorial director for performance marketing at Verywell. She has over a decade of experience as a professional journalist covering mental health, chronic conditions, medicine, and science.

Learn about our editorial process
and
Ray Finch
Ray Finch

Ray is a copy editor, fact-checker, mental health writer, and editorial producer with over five years of experience.

Learn about our editorial process
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